Red Claws’ Walt Lemon maneuvers around Ft. Wayne’s Ike Angibogu for a layup Friday at the Portland Expo. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)

PORTLAND — From across a crowded room, their eyes met.

OK, so it was the Portland Expo and they were playing a G League basketball game, but the chemistry between Walt Lemon Jr. and P.J. Dozier was unmistakable Friday night.

A pair of long-distance alley-oop passes to end the third quarter set up a memorable fourth as the Red Claws surged to a 109-105 victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants before a crowd of 1,562 to end a three-game losing streak.

Twice Lemon let fly from the vicinity of the opposite free-throw line and Dozier caught and shot in one motion for a layup 75 feet away.

“That’s just us having fun, in the rhythm of the game,” said Lemon, who, along with Dozier, is on a two-way contract between the Celtics and the Red Claws. “The closer we get, the better our chemistry is going to get.”


The victory followed a disappointing loss Thursday when the Red Claws (2-5) failed to protect an early double-digit lead against Raptors 905 despite having three NBA players in their lineup along with Dozier and Lemon, who scored 34 points Friday after ice-cold shooting the previous evening.

Last weekend in Indiana, Fort Wayne (3-2) put a 133-105 shellacking on the Red Claws. On Friday night, Dozier (27 points) and Lemon sparked a 19-7 run to open the fourth and lift Maine ahead 98-87.

When Fort Wayne pulled to within one basket, Lemon drained a step-back jumper and a shot clock-beating 3-pointer on consecutive possessions to make it 107-99 with two minutes left.

“Those are the moments I really want,” said Lemon, who played two seasons for the Mad Ants. “On this team, I want to be the finisher.”

Edmond Sumner (26 points) led one final Fort Wayne run to pull within two in the final minute, but Lemon and Vitto Brown each made 1 of 2 free throws. A potential tying 3-pointer from Sumner caught front iron.

“It was definitely important for us to bounce back,” Dozier said.


The Claws got 14 points each from Marcus Georges-Hunt, who hit two clutch 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and Brown, who was 3 for 5 from deep.

NOTES: The Mad Ants had a built-in cheering section behind their bench in section 19. Chris Taylor, a Maine native who played at Emerson College after winning Class C state titles in 2006 and 2007 at Calais High, is Fort Wayne’s director of operations.

Friends and family snapped up 121 tickets to see Taylor, who wore a spiffy tan suit and said he occasionally travels with the team. His parents, George and Regina, were among the crowd, many of them decked out in blue Mad Ants T-shirts provided by Taylor.

While in college, Taylor interned with the Celtics and later worked for the Red Claws.

Red Claws’ Marcus Georges-Hunt loses his grip on the ball after colliding with Ft. Wayne’s Ben Moore on Friday at the Portland Expo. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Former Calais High School basketball player and Chris Taylor now serves as Director of Basketball Operations for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Taylor was once an intern for the Red Claws. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) ) Red Claws’ Walt Lemon shoots from the 3-point range against Fort Wayne on Friday at the Portland Expo. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald) Red Claws’ P.J. Dozier drives to the basket on Friday against Ft. Wayne at the Portland Expo. (Ben McCanna/Portland Press Herald)

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