PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Red Claws, presented by Unum, couldn’t overcome a slow start Saturday night, falling to Sioux Falls, 112-95. Three members of the Skyforce finished with 20+ points, led by former Red Claw Rodney McGruder’s 29 points and 11 rebounds. Briante Weber added 26 points, and Jabril Trawick scored 23 points off the bench. Sioux Falls (29-7) has now won seven straight games, and continues its NBA D-League record start to the season.
The game marked the return to Maine for Tim Frazier. The reigning NBA D-League MVP and Rookie of the Year re-joined the Red Claws yesterday, and picked up right where he left off last season, finishing with a near-triple double (16 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists). Coty Clarke led Maine with 24 points on 11-19 shooting.
Maine (21-15) opened with a quick basket from Coty Clarke, but former Red Claw Rodney McGruder answered with driving dunks on three of the next four possessions for the Skyforce (29-7), as the visitors ran out to an early 12-7 lead. Maine clawed back to take an 18-16 lead on a Frazier bucket with 2:26 remaining in the quarter, but McGruder answered with a three point play 18 seconds later. Frazier tied it with a floater in the paint, but Deandre Liggins buried a late three to take a 23-20 lead into the break.
Jabril Trawick took over the second quarter, scoring 13 of the first 18 Sioux Falls points. Omari Johnson tried to jumpstart the Red Claws offense with eight straight points, but Briante Weber and Greg Whittington had the answer for the visiting Skyforce as they pushed the lead to 52-33. Maine went on a 9-0 run to cut the lead to 52-42, but McGruder scored as time expired to push the Sioux Falls lead to 54-42 at halftime.
Coty Clarke came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, scoring 10 straight for Maine to cut the lead to eight, but Weber, McGruder and Liggins stemmed the tide with a 13-4 run. James Young, on assignment to Maine from the Boston Celtics, scored five straight points, but Trawick answered on three consecutive possessions, including the first baskets in a 12-0 run to close out the third with the Skyforce up 89-65.
Clarke again sparked a bit of a run for Maine at the start of the fourth, scoring eight consecutive points for Maine, but McGruder was right there to score four to keep the lead at 25. Davion Berry scored nine points around a Frazier basket to trim the lead to 20, and a late 10-2 run for Maine cut the lead further, but it was too little too late as Sioux Falls cruised to the 16 point victory.
McGruder (29 points, 11 rebounds, three steaks) led all scorers. Weber (26 points, six rebounds, five steals), Trawick (23), Whittington (11 points, 11 rebounds, five assists) and Liggins (10 points, five rebounds, seven assists) also scored in double figures for Sioux Falls.
Clarke (24) led Maine, while Frazier (16 points, eight assists, seven rebounds), Johnson (15 points, six rebounds, two steals), Berry (10) and Young (10) contributed double digit points for the Red Claws.
The Red Claws and Skyforce are back in action tomorrow evening with a 5:00 PM tipoff at the Portland Expo Building.