PORTLAND — Marcus Georges-Hunt recorded a triple-double and the Maine Red Claws pulled away down the stretch to beat the Long Island Nets 114-98 on Friday at the Portland Expo.

The Nets were in rally mode for most of the game, constantly falling behind and then coming back. Their last stand evened the score at 88-88 with 8:25 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Following a timeout, the Red Claws took over the remainder of the game, finishing on a 26-10 run.

“I thought we started playing as a team more,” Maine coach Scott Morrison said. “I thought we were playing for ourselves a lot of that game, and driving into multiple defenders and trying to force shots. I thought in the last little bit of the game, we made better reads and found the open guy, just made simple plays.”

The tie was broken ball movement set up a corner 3-pointer for Damion Lee. It was one of three 3-pointers in the game-clinching stretch that were launched from in front of the Long Island bench — Lee hit another and Abdel Nader made one.

“We just took a deep breath,” Georges-Hunt said. “Everyone calmed down, and we just executed what we needed to on offense and did a great job on defense during that stretch.”

Georges-Hunt finished with 22 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds for the 11th triple-double in Red Claws history. Georges-Hunt was making his first start at point guard.

“I was just going out playing,” Georges-Hunt said. “My teammates made it easier on me, making shots, and I was finding the open man.”

Morrison appreciated that Georges-Hunt only turned the ball over twice.

“I thought Marcus played great,” Morrison said. “He’s got some learning to do at the point guard spot, but he was calm under pressure down the stretch, he made some good reads, and he put up a triple-double, so you can’t really argue with that.”

Jalen Jones led Maine with 31 points and 13 rebounds. Thirteen of his points came in the third quarter. That included a dunk over defenders late in the period.

“Any time I have an opportunity to take it to the basket strong, I’m going to try to do that,” Jones said. “I ended up finishing strong and just took advantage of that opportunity.”

Jones’ physical play earned him a gash over his right eye.

“It’s just a battle out there. The D-League’s a battle,” Jones said. “I just got a little war wound, got a little glued up. I should be fine.”

The Red Claws built leads throughout the game, only to squander them. They led by 11 at the end of the first quarter, but that got down to two points in the second. They built it back up to 12 points, and led 59-50 at halftime.

The Nets rallied back and took a 70-69 lead in the latter half of the third quarter. Maine rebounded to grab a nine-point advantage before the end of the quarter. Heading into the fourth, the Red Claws held an 83-76 edge, which was completely erased in less than four minutes.

“I think it’s just a matter of guys being satisfied,” Morrison said. “I think we sometimes forget what got us the lead and take unnecessary risks, kind of get away from what we do well.”

The Red Claws again responded, this time with their biggest charge of the game. The 88-88 scored soon was 104-92, and Maine cruised from there.

“We forced them into some good shots. We weren’t tough enough defensively down the stretch,” Nets coach Ronald Nored said. “And they beat us; they made us pay for not doing the things that we needed to do to win.”

Maine’s defense, meanwhile, allowed a season-low 98 points, the first time holding an opponent under the century mark this season.

“Definitely, our defense was better,” Morrison said. “I thought we had noticeable improvement in two things, and one was transition defense, just getting back — they scored some transition off our turnovers, but that’s not attributed to our defense. So our transition defense was better, and not putting guys on the free-throw line — they only had 10 free throws.”

The Red Claws (3-1) next host Grand Rapids on Sunday at 1 p.m.


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