From across a crowded room, their eyes met.

OK, so it was the Portland Expo and they were playing a G League basketball game, but the chemistry between Walt Lemon Jr. and P.J. Dozier was unmistakable Friday night.

A pair of long-distance alley-oop passes to end the third quarter set up a memorable fourth as the Red Claws surged to a 109-105 victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants before a crowd of 1,562 to end a three-game losing streak.

Twice Lemon let fly from the vicinity of the opposite free-throw line and Dozier caught and shot in one motion for a layup 75 feet away.

“That’s just us having fun, in the rhythm of the game,” said Lemon, who, along with Dozier, is on a two-way contract between the Celtics and the Red Claws. “The closer we get, the better our chemistry is going to get.”

The victory followed a disappointing loss Thursday when the Red Claws (2-5) failed to protect an early double-digit lead against Raptors 905 despite having three NBA players in their lineup along with Dozier and Lemon, who scored 34 points Friday after ice-cold shooting the previous evening.

Last weekend in Indiana, Fort Wayne (3-2) put a 133-105 shellacking on the Red Claws. On Friday night, Dozier (27 points) and Lemon sparked a 19-7 run to open the fourth and lift Maine ahead 98-87.

When Fort Wayne pulled to within one basket, Lemon drained a step-back jumper and a shot clock-beating 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to make it 107-99 with two minutes left.

“Those are the moments I really want,” said Lemon, who played two seasons for the Mad Ants. “On this team, I want to be the finisher.”

Edmond Sumner (26 points) led one final Fort Wayne run to pull within two in the final minute, but Lemon and Vitto Brown each made 1 of 2 free throws. A potential tying 3-pointer from Sumner caught front iron.

“It was definitely important for us to bounce back,” Dozier said.

The Claws got 14 points each from Marcus Georges-Hunt, who hit two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Brown, who was 3 for 5 from deep.

NOTES: The Mad Ants had a built-in cheering section behind their bench in section 19. Chris Taylor, a Maine native who played at Emerson College after winning Class C state titles in 2006 and 2007 at Calais High, is Fort Wayne’s director of operations.

Friends and family snapped up 121 tickets to see Taylor, who wore a spiffy tan suit and said he occasionally travels with the team. His parents, George and Regina, were among the crowd, many of them decked out in blue Mad Ants T-shirts provided by Taylor.

While in college, Taylor interned with the Celtics and later worked for the Red Claws.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

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