On Thursday night, what most basketball players would call a career game, Maine Celtics point guard Chris Clemons had in a half.

Clemons, Maine’s point guard, scored a career-high 52 points, 42 coming in the second half to lead the Celtics to a come-from-behind 130-101 win over the Lakeland Magic in front of 1,510 fans who cheered louder with each bucket by Clemons.

Clemons was 18 for 28 from the field, including 11 for 20 from 3-point range, and 5 for 5 at the line. The 5-foot-9 Clemons filled out his box score with 11 rebounds. The Celtics also set a team record for points in a half with 85 in the second half.

“It was a tough first half for everybody. I was fortunate to get easy looks early in the second half,” said Clemons, whose previous career-high was 41 points.

Maine Coach Jarrell Christian said he did not have to say anything to Clemons at the half to ignite the spark.

“He’s a good self-starter who doesn’t really need somebody in his ear,” Christian said.

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Clemons is the third player in team history to score 50 points in a game. Trey Davis holds the record with 57 points almost exactly four years ago.

Turnovers were a problem for the Celtics (12-13) early, with 10 of their 19 giveaways coming in the first quarter. Once Maine began to take better care of the basketball, things started to go its way, Christian said.

Down 56-45 at the half, Maine took the lead for good on a Deonte Burton basket, 68-67, with 6:37 left in the third. Led by Clemons, who scored 20 points in the third quarter, Maine scored a franchise-record 46 points in the third, turning the 11-point halftime deficit into a 10-point cushion, 91-81, entering the fourth.

In the fourth, Clemons continued to have the hot hand. His layup with 5:32 left pushed Maine’s lead to 21, 116-95. Clemons made three free throws with 1:05 left to get to 49 points, and drilled a 3 with 50 seconds left to cross the 50-point barrier. Clemons said he was trying to get to 50 in the closing minutes of the game.

“You don’t get many chances to do something special,” Clemons said. “You take your opportunity.”

The Magic led 56-45 at the half. Lakeland (8-17) led 30-22 after a quarter, and pushed the lead to 36-24 on Hassani Gravett’s running layup with 10:06 left in the second. The Celtics rallied to tie it at 43 on Isaiah Cousins’ 3 with 4:31 to play.

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The Magic then went on a 13-0 run for their largest lead, with nine of the points coming from Jeff Dowtin, before Clemons scored with 2 seconds left in the half to break Lakeland’s run.

The win was an important one for the Celtics, who have won 4 of 5 five following a five-game losing streak.

With seven games left in the regular season, Maine is fighting for a G League playoff spot. The Celtics host Lakeland again Friday night.

The Celtics have to keep playing well and control what they can control, Clemons said.

“We’re capable of winning all these games coming up,” Clemons said.

With eight rebounds, Maine’s John Bohannon became the team’s all-time leading rebounder with 741, passing Chris Wright (734).

Burton added 22 points for the Celtics, and Matt Ryan scored 19.

Aleem Ford led Lakeland with 27 points and BJ Johnson scored 22.


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