The Maine Red Claws struck back at their rival Springfield Armor last night at the Expo, defeating New England’s other D-League team 94-90 in a hard-fought game.
The Red Claws started slowly. They played close to the Armor the whole first quarter, but were never able to establish any kind of rhythm, and finished the first trailing by six. The second quarter didn’t go much better, and Springfield jumped out to a fourteen-point lead at one point. While the Red Claws tried to rally, they were never able to quite shut down Morris Almond, who finished the half with 15 points. At times the former first-round draft pick (In 2007 Almond was picked ahead of Glen Davis) seemed to be scoring at will, and the Red Claws had little answer . Both Almond and C Marcus Campbell reached double digit points in the first half, while no Red Claw did.
The Claws came out of the locker room and turned it on in the third quarter, though. They shut down Almond: in the first half he played 19 minutes and had 15 points; in the second half he played 13 minutes and had no points. Campbell was similarly shut down, and JamesOn Curry struggled to reach double digits. This game was a tale of two halves to be sure, as the Red Claws seemed to fix whatever afflicted them initially – they ended up leading the second half 48-35. If Maine had played the whole game the way they played the third quarter, this game would have never been a contest.
One of the major improvements in the second half for the Red Claws was being able to shut down Springfield’s shooters. While the Armor made 2 of their 3 three-pointers in the first half, in the second they only attempted four more and missed them all, putting them at just 33% from downtown all night. Unfortunately for Maine, their own three-point shooting was even more unsuccessful – they attempted 15 but only made 4 all night. This was a huge part of the reason why Springfield was able to stay in the game.
Newly acquired guard Chris Lowe played well in his 14 minutes, finishing with 10 points. Altogether, six Red Claws reached double digits, with Will Blalock leading the way with 16 points. This was a good win for Maine, coming off a disappointing road trip that included an overtime loss in Springfield last Saturday. They’ll have a chance to avenge that loss tonight, as yet again they return to Springfield to face the Armor in the MassMutual Center.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Will Blalock, with an Honorable Mention to captain Billy Thomas.
RED CLAWS NEXT THREE: Saturday, January 16, @ Springfield Armor, 7:00PM; Thursday, January 21, @ Springfield Armor, 7:00PM; Friday, January 22, vs. Austin Toros, 7:30PM.