Springfield, Mass. - The Springfield Armor, presented by MGM Springfield, fell to the Maine Red Claws 102-100 tonight at the MassMutual Center. Fab Melo, on assignment from Maine's NBA affiliate, the Boston Celtics, converted a layup with 1.2 seconds left in the fourth quarter to break a 100-100 tie and send the Claws back to Portland with a victory.
In the Red Claws' (12-8) first visit to Springfield (5-12) this season, Shelvin Mack got off to a hot start for Maine. Mack scored the first Red Claws' basket of the evening and finished the quarter with nine points. Maine buried 11-of-20 shots for 55% in the first, but the Armor, despite hitting just 8-of-26 first-quarter shots for 31%, kept the game close and went into the first intermission trailing 26-22.
The Armor trimmed the deficit to two points early in the second quarter, but Maine responded with a 10-3 run, capped by a Micah Downs' three-pointer, to extend the Red Claws' lead to 44-33 midway through the second. The Armor fought back with a 12-5 run of their own to get back within striking distance (49-45) and finished the half on a 7-2 run, punctuated by a Dennis Horner jumper for two of his team-high 13 first-half points, to cut the lead to 53-52 at intermission.
Mack led all scorers with 15 points in the opening half, while Horner tallied 13 points and James Mays chipped in 10.
After the two teams played the third quarter to a stalemate (27-27 in the period), Maine held an 80-79 lead heading into the fourth.
In the fourth quarter, a Carleton Scott layup with 7:54 to go evened the score at 85-85. From there, the Red Claws used the ensuing four minutes to go on a 10-3 run and a Mack three-pointer for the Red Claws gave them a 98-88 advantage with 3:52 remaining. After a quick four-point burst for Springfield, Maine edged out to a 100-92 lead on a pair of Mack free throws with 3:02 to go before Springfield made its move. The Armor ripped off an 8-0 run, as Ben Uzoh took over the final seconds with six of the eight points, to tie the game at 100-100 with 35.1 seconds to go. After a pair of missed shot attempts by the Armor, Maine regained possession. With 3.9 seconds left, Mack rimmed out a jumper from eight feet, but Melo corralled the ball and finished the go-ahead layup with just 1.2 seconds remaining. A desperation jumper by Ramone Moore fell short for Springfield at the buzzer.
Uzoh led the way for Springfield, posting his third double-double of the season with 17 points (7-of-13 shooting) and a season-high 11 assists (with just three turnovers) in 37 minutes. Mays added a team-high 22 points and eight rebounds in 40 minutes, Horner tallied 15 points (13 in the first half) and nine rebounds (six offensive) in 35 minutes, Scott chipped in 13 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes, Moore added 12 points in 37 minutes and Kenny Adeleke, making his Armor debut tonight, contributed 10 rebounds (five offensive) in 22 minutes off the bench.
Mack and Downs led all scorers with 26 points apiece tonight. Mack added 11 assists of his own (with one turnover) in 44 minutes, while Downs buried 10-of-18 from the field, including 5-of-10 from behind the arc in 45 minutes. DaJuan Summers posted 16 points and seven rebounds in 42 minutes before fouling out, Xavier Silas poured in 13 points in 29 minutes off the bench and Scott VanderMeer scored 11 points in 19 minutes. Melo scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots in 29 minutes in his first game back from a concussion that had kept him out of game action since Dec. 29.
The Armor and Red Claws will complete a home-and-home series tomorrow night at 7:00 pm at the Portland Expo.