The timeout came at just the right moment. The play drawn up by Red Claws Coach Darren Erman worked exactly as designed. Bryce Brown swished the tying 3-pointer from the left corner with a little more than three minutes remaining.

Only it didn’t count.

Brown had stepped out of bounds.

Instead of a tie, the Claws continued to trail the visiting Windy City Bulls, and they never caught up. With old friend Daniel Dixon enjoying his best game of the season, Windy City walked off the Portland Expo floor with a 120-112 G League victory Sunday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 2,417.

The Red Claws (28-13) have dropped back-to-back games for only the second time this season, and first since early December.

More surprisingly, they did so not only with 7-foot-5 center Tacko Fall back in the lineup after missing Friday night’s game because of a strained big toe, but also with the addition of two Celtics assigned from Boston, fellow 7-footer Vincent Poirier and guard Carsen Edwards.

Fall blocked a season-high nine shots, went 7 for 7 from the field, grabbed 14 rebounds and finished with 16 points. Poirier added 15 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks.

Still, it wasn’t enough. The Claws committed 26 turnovers to Windy City’s seven. Eight of the nine Red Claws who played committed at least two turnovers, with Justin Bibbs (one) the lone exception.

“We’ve got to improve on that,” said Brown, who led Maine with 18 points and two steals to help make up for his three turnovers. “We haven’t been handling the ball well lately and we’ve been lackadaisical with our passes.”

The Claws also fared poorly from the foul line, making only 9 of 19 free throws. Compounding that issue is that under G League rules, many of those misses were worth two or three points apiece.

Too many turnovers and missed free throws, coupled with allowing Windy City to corral 18 rebounds, points to a lack of focus and hustle, in Erman’s view.

“I don’t feel like we were ready to play, for whatever reason,” he said. “We had a game plan going in, how we were going to attack them, and we didn’t really execute it well.”

Edwards had an off game. He missed all eight 3-point attempts and shot a chilly 3 for 14 overall, finishing with eight points. Tremont Waters, who along with Fall is under a two-way NBA contract, had five points and six assists. Both guards made three turnovers.

Neither Edwards nor Waters was in the backcourt in the final minutes, with Erman opting to go with Brown and Jaysean Paige (15 points, eight assists).

Maine took an 88-84 lead late in the third before a pivotal call went against Fall. Receiving the ball deep in the paint with Dixon pinned behind him, Fall turned and immediately dunked, pulling his legs off the ground for emphasis as if doing a chin-up.

At 6-6, Dixon is a foot shorter, and so when Fall turned, his elbow caught Dixon not in the chest but in the face. Officials whistled Fall for a flagrant foul, negating the basket. Dixon sank his foul shot (worth two points), and Windy City two-way player Adam Mokoka followed with a 3-pointer to make for a seven-point swing.

Dixon, who played for the Red Claws two seasons ago, finished with 24 points in 31 minutes off the bench, both season highs since he joined Windy City in late January.

Early in the fourth, Fall dunked over Ferrakohn Hall and let loose with a guttural yell, born of frustration from Hall’s clear disregard for social distancing.

“At some point, I just had enough,” Fall said. “If people are going to play me like that, I’m not going to take it. They can foul me out or whatever, but I’m not going to take it.”

After a game in Delaware on Wednesday morning, the Red Claws return to the Expo next weekend for games Friday against Raptors 905 and Sunday against the Wisconsin Herd.


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