PORTLAND – The Maine Red Claws dropped a heartbreaker to the visiting Canton Charge, 92-91, on Saturday night when Canton’s Kyle Gibson was fouled with 1.1 seconds on the clock and converted one of his free throws to give the Charge the narrow victory.
The loss, combined with an Erie win in Springfield, dropped the Red Claws (10-7) out of first place by a half-game while Canton (10-8) closed to within a half-game of the now-second place Red Claws.
After battling back-and-forth throughout much of the first half, the Red Claws saw a 28-26 first quarter lead erased by halftime, with the Charge outscoring Maine in the second quarter to take a 48-42 cushion into the break.
Canton added a couple more points to their lead in the third, taking a 68-60 into the final quarter.
The Red Claws would not go quietly, however. They opened the final frame with a 17-5 run to take a 77-73 lead midway through the quarter.
From there, the teams traded mini-runs to grab small leads back-and-forth.
In the final 39 seconds, Maine’s Dajuan Summers converted a traditional 3-point play and Boston Celtics’ assignee Kris Joseph converted a layup to tie the score at 91.
After Gibson’s free throw, the Charge broke up the Red Claws’ desperation try to set up a game-winning shot.
Canton was led by Jon Leuer, recently assigned by the Cleveland Cavaliers, with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Gibson also contributed a double-double to the Charge victory, scoring 20 points and handing out 11 assists. Canton also got a solid effort from Jorge Gutierrez (20).
Maine was led by Summers’ double-double (23 points, 12 rebounds, five assists). Also turning in solid performances for the Red Claws were Micah Downs (21 points, seven rebounds), Champ Oguchi (15 points, five rebounds) and Joseph (14). Maine also got a strong defensive effort from Scott VanderMeer (eight rebounds, seven blocked shots).
Both teams will head west to Reno, NV to take part in the 2013 NBA Development League Showcase next week. The Red Claws will face Tulsa on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. and Bakersfield on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. All 16 NBADL teams will participate in the annual Showcase, held by the NBADL as an opportunity for players to showcase the talents to NBA scouts and general managers and corresponds with the beginning of 10-day NBA contracts.