PORTLAND, Maine — The Maine Red Claws, presented by Unum, rang in the New Year with a 111-101 win over the Lakeland Magic in front of a sold out crowd at the Portland Expo.
Maine (12-10) was led by Boston Celtics Two-Way Player Jabari Bird, who scored 30 points and grabbed 7 rebounds. Fellow Two-Way Player Kadeem Allen added 18 points for Maine in the win, while L.J. Peak also scored 18. Andrew White added 17 points, and Devin Williams added 14 points and 8 rebounds. Lakeland (13-7) was led by Jamel Artis with 29 points, and Adreian Payne, who finished with 18 points and 9 boards.
Bird opened the game with a three-pointer, and Williams followed that up with an easy lay-in. The two teams traded buckets early, with Maine taking an 11-7 lead halfway through the 1st quarter. Bennett made his Red Claws debut and knocked in a deep three on his first shot attempt. Allen’s steal and slam made it 20-13 Claws. Adreian Payne scored 9 points for Lakeland, but Maine held the Magic to just 15 points — the lowest-scoring quarter by a Red Claws opponent this season. Maine led 23-15 after 1.
In the 2nd, Bird opened the scoring with a reverse slam, making it a 10 point lead. Troy Caupain scored a pair of quick buckets to get Lakeland back into the game, cutting the Red Claws’ lead to 31-25. Caupain buried a three to make it a two point game. Williams stopped the bleeding with a quick lay-in, but Rodney Purvis answered with a corner three, and Jamel Artis’ bucket gave Lakeland a 10-2 run and a 40-39 lead. Bird buried a long three to put the Claws back up three, but Payne rocked the rim on the other end for two more. Allen hit a tough shot in the final minute, and Maine took a 51-48 lead into the break. Bird led the Claws with 13 points in the first half, and Payne led all scorers with 15.
Bird began the second half by knocking in a three, then driving and scoring on the next possession. Bird started to take over the game, scoring 10 of Maine’s first 13 points in the 3rd. Daniel Dixon’s lay-in made it 69-64 Red Claws, but Payne’s three-point play tied the game. Purvis buried a three, and Bird tied it with a lay-in, then took a charge on the other end. Lakeland out-scored Maine 30-27 in the 3rd, and the game was tied at 78 after 3.
In the 4th, Maine extended its lead to 85-80. Andrew White hit a tough floater to maintain the 5 point lead, and Allen knocked in a corner three to make it 94-86 Claws. Williams and the Red Claws extended it back to double-digits – and Bird continued his prolific scoring performance. After a costly turnover, Allen buried a long three to make it 107-96 Maine. The Red Claws would cruise from there. Maine shot 50.7% (38-75) from the field, 35.7% (10-28) from three-point range, and 25-33 from the free throw line. Lakeland shot 45.8% (38-83) from the floor, 26.9% (7-26) from deep, and 18-20 from the charity stripe.