Claws Jam Bakersfield

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Maine Red Claws, as expected, destroyed the league's worst team tonight in front of another sellout crowd in the Portland Expo. Despite Bill Walker being sent back up to the Celtics, Alexis Ajinca not at his best, and Lester Hudson only arriving for the second half, it was no contest. At various times the Jam tried to turn it into a contest. While it looked like they might get it going and make it a game, their rally never quite materialized. After the first quarter it was never closer than nine points.

Bakersfield started strong, to be sure. With less than three minutes left in the first quarter, they were only behind by a point. Initially, it seemed that they might be competitive. Perhaps their recent roster moves had been effective, or perhaps this would into a surprise challenge for the Claws, much like their first home loss. Then the Red Claws went on an 11-3 run, and by the end of the quarter the home team was ahead by nine points. That run would be indicative of the rest of the game. Maine never looked back, defeating the visitors by a final of 105-82.

It took Bakersfield the first three minutes of the second before they were able to score. While the Claws scored five more points in the second than they had in the third, the Jam scored the same. At halftime the Claws were in full command with an impressive 23-point lead - identical to the final margin.

Although a brief rally materialized for the visitors as they pushed from being down almost twenty points to finishing the third with an eleven-point deficit, they only barely got it into single digits when the rally fizzled. This was the only quarter where the Jam outscored than the Claws (35-27). For a while there the Jam looked impressive, but then the Claws dominated the fourth quarter.

It wasn't the NBA assignees who stood out, but Trey Gilder and Noel Felix. Gilder notched 18, leading the team in points, while Felix had a double-double with 16 points and 11 rebounds. Although Hudson didn't see much time, he played well in 13 minutes and Ajinca was impressive despite a slow start, with 12 points and 9 rebounds.

Maine played a strong game, despite losing Walker and with Hudson only notching 3 points in 13 minutes. The Red Claws showed why they're one of the best teams in the D-League. They also proved they could dominate without their NBA assignees, and that they'll be competitive with or without help from the Boston Celtics and Charlotte Bobcats.

NOTES: Celtics GM Danny Ainge attended the game...the first-place Iowa Energy face the 3-7 Eerie BayHawks later tonight; an Iowa loss would leave Maine and Iowa tied for first place...Lester Hudson arrived late & only played in the second half.

PLAYER OF THE GAME: Noel Felix; Honorable Mention to Trey Gilder


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