Red Claws Down Armor

PORTLAND, ME - The Maine Red Claws got back on the winning track at home Friday night. After dropping their fourth game of the year Tuesday at the NBA D-League Showcase, Maine beat the struggling Springfield Armor, 95-91. For the eighth consecutive game, the Portland Expo was packed to the rafters as the fans enjoyed “Elvis Night” in honor of Elvis Presley’s 75th birthday. The teams played a back-and-forth first half and were deadlocked at 47 at the break. Neither squad was able to take charge throughout the third either as the biggest lead was merely five. The Armor led by three to start the fourth.

The game finally saw some separation when the Armor built up a seven-point lead with seven minutes to play in the game, but the Red Claws showed resilience and got the ball inside to big men Noel Felix and Alexis Ajinca who each had two baskets in an 8-2 run that brought Maine within one. They regained the lead 89-88 on a driving Mario West layup with 2:11 to play. From there the defense clamped down, and Alexis Ajinca threw down an emphatic dunk in the closing seconds to put the exclamation point on the win.

Ajinca finished with 24 points and 9 rebounds. Mario West and Darnell Lazare had 19 and 16, respectively, for the Red Claws. Morris Almond led the way for Springfield with 21, and JamesOn Curry chipped in with 11 points and an impressive 15 assists.

In a promotional event the sell-out crowd saw Josh Longstaff, a Gorham High School basketball coach and former Portland High School standout player hit a half court shot to win $1,000. Longstaff missed an opportunity to win a fully loaded 2010 Camaro, courtesy of Quirk Chevrolet, when after hitting a layup and three point shot, he failed on a half-court attempt. Longstaff made the most of his second chance half-court shot, hitting nothing but net for the consolation $1,000 prize.

The win makes the Red Claws 12-4 on the year while the Armor fall to 2-14. The two teams will square off again tomorrow in Springfield at 7:30 PM. The two will become familiar foes over the next several weeks; the Armor will face the Red Claws in five consecutive games while Maine will see Springfield in five of six.