The Portland Expo was a hot and hopping place Friday as the Maine Red Claws welcomed the Austin Toros to town for their first respective games of the season. The game did not go as planned for the Claws, who fall to Austin, 103-97.
This game took on a few different faces. At first, the Claws seemed a bit tense. With seven rookies among ten players, there is going to be a nerve issue. That cause a pretty sloppy game for most of the first quarter.
To complicate matters, NBAer Mario West went down midway through the first quarter with a leg injury, and did not return.
On top of the nerves was the issue of getting to know your team. The D-League draft was November 1st, the first preseason game was November 15th, and the first game was November 19th. The coaches and the players need time to gel, and that was a glaring issue against the Toros, who have four returning players against the one Maine returnee (West).
Point runs of 10-4 and 13-5 from Maine helped keep it a close game in the first half.
But after that, it was simply a problem with ball control. The Claws committed 26 turnovers. Tiny Gallon had six turnovers, to lead the team. Why is a six-foot-ten, 300 pound player controlling the ball so much that he can get six turnovers? The same issue with Magnum Rolle, who definitely seemed a bit tight. He had five turnovers. The team’s two biggest players commit almost half the team’s turnovers?
Crustacean Nation better hope coaches Ainge and Planells put a stop to that.
On that, while Maine out-shot Austin all over the place, they allowed Austin to get 22 offensive rebounds. It could be that the bigs were too busy handling the ball to rebound. Still, Paul Harris managed to help some. He had ten boards to accompany his 20 points in his first D-League match-up.
Scoring-wise, Maine did okay. They shot very well, thanks to Tiny’s eight-for-eleven shooting, and Champ Oguchi hitting five of his eight three-pointers. If they can continue to shoot 47 percent as a team all season, it will help matters.
All in all, it was an ugly affair. Five players scored double digits, but what killed them was turnovers and not rebounding well enough. Take two against the Toros is tonight at 7pm. I hope the coaches discussed a few things. The state of Maine needs a better game than that, because they are a better team that.
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