Archie Goodwin drove the lane and found himself within a few feet of the basket, taller defenders readying themselves for a shot.

Instead, Goodwin spotted Red Claws teammate Andrew White uncovered and fed him the basketball for a 3-pointer. The scenario repeated itself twice more Sunday afternoon, with Goodwin penetrating and kicking to White for half of his six 3-pointers in Maine’s 115-106 G League loss to the Westchester Knicks before a sellout crowd of 2,417 at the Portland Expo.

Red Claws Coach Brandon Bailey calls them rim decisions, knowing when to shoot and when to pass, and said that’s been an area of significant improvement for Goodwin. A former first-round draft pick who has played more games in the NBA (165) than in the G League, Goodwin is adjusting to a sixth-man role with the Red Claws.

Sunday marked the third time in 23 games that Goodwin was in Maine’s starting lineup, and then only because R.J. Hunter was a late scratch. Even so, Goodwin is second on the team in scoring average, at 17.3 points per game. P.J. Dozier leads the team at 21.0 points per game.

“It just means I have to come in and be productive right away,” Goodwin said of his off-the-bench role. “Be ready to attack, be ready to be aggressive and make contact.”

Although only 24, Goodwin is in his sixth year as a pro. He grew up in Arkansas and played one year at the University of Kentucky before declaring for the 2013 draft. The Phoenix Suns traded up to get him with the 29th pick.

Standing 6-foot-5 with a wingspan four inches longer, Goodwin showed plenty of athletic potential but was never able to achieve consistent results with the Suns, who released him after three seasons. He has spent time with Brooklyn and New Orleans, as well as considerable action in the G League, then gave China a try this fall.

When that didn’t work out, he joined the Red Claws in early January. The team had acquired his rights in a preseason trade with Northern Arizona involving Daniel Dixon.

“He’s been a huge add to our team in terms of his defense, his toughness, his awareness and his ability to get to the rim,” Bailey said. “He’s not perfect, but his heart’s always in the right place and he’s trying to do the right things for our team.”

Goodwin scored 23 points and dished out eight assists in Thursday night’s home victory over Iowa, then led the team with 32 points the following night at Long Island in a 129-111 loss. A lengthy overnight bus trip followed each contest, meaning the Claws were hit particularly hard by the time change Saturday night.

Still, they battled to overcome a 15-point deficit Sunday and took a 100-98 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Goodwin had 15 points, six assists, eight rebounds and a pair of steals when, with just under five minutes left, he leaped high to block a fast-break layup attempt but collided with Westchester guard Sekou Wiggs and landed on his back. Goodwin tried to continue, but soon left the game for good.

The Knicks, fighting for a playoff spot, ended the game on a 17-6 run. Former Red Claws guard Kadeem Allen led the way with 20 points and nine assists. White finished with 27 points, and two-way Celtics player Dozier added 24 to go along with 10 assists. The loss officially eliminated Maine from playoff contention.

“If I wouldn’t have gotten hurt,” Goodwin said, “we would have won.”

Because he has so much time in the NBA, Goodwin is not eligible for a two-way contract that allows an NBA team to effectively keep a pair of G Leaguers on retainer. He said he will find another way to return.

“I know I should be in the NBA,” he said. “I just have to embrace the grind, embrace the struggle, to get back, because it’s going to make it so much more worthwhile once I do get back.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.