Maine Red Claws (12-6) vs. Springfield Armor (3-14)
8:00PM Friday, January 15, Portland Expo, Portland, Maine
The Red Claws-Armor rivalry is really heating up this month. The two teams play each other five times in January, then don’t face off again until the end of March.
After blowout wins over the Springfield Armor Armor in their first two meetings, the Red Claws had close games against them in Portland and in Springfield last weekend. In the MassMutual Center on Saturday, Trey Gilder led the Red Claws with a big double-double (33 points and 12 rebounds). Alexis Ajinca (21 points) and Mario West (19 points) also had good games, but it wasn’t enough as the Red Claws fell in a 113-110 OT loss. In the end, Maine’s slow start – they trailed by 8 at the end of the first quarter – helped make the difference. The loss marked Springfield’s first win in the season series, which now stands at 3-1 Maine.
On Tuesday, the Claws headed to Indiana to play the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, Milwaukee Bucks). They had just lost one of their team leaders, Mario West, to the NBA the day before. They started strong but came out flat in the third, trailing in that quarter 34!-11! and giving the Mad Ants control of the game. Maine regained their composure in the fourth, but it was too late to avoid a 103-93 loss. Noel Felix had a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds) and Will Blalock finished with 19 points.
The Springfield rivalry has grown considerably more intense after two close games. After their two losses, Maine will no doubt be eager for a win, but can they come back and dominate Springfield as they have in the past – especially without West? That remains to be seen. The Armor have the advantage of being well-rested, as they haven’t played since their home victory over the Claws on Saturday. This is an important game for the Red Claws.
NOTES: The 0-2 road trip marked Maine’s first back-to-back losses this season…the Red Claws are now 3 games behind the Iowa Energy in the East.