A sellout crowd welcomed the Maine Celtics back to the Portland Expo on Friday night.

The team returned the favor.

Trailing by eight late in the third quarter, the Celtics kicked into high gear with tight defense and a flurry of big plays on their way to a 116-105 G League basketball victory over the Long Island Nets before an appreciative crowd of 2,417.

“It was awesome,” said Maine’s first-year head coach, Blaine Mueller. “The fans were great. Our guys felt it. Obviously, they’re the ones making the plays to get the reaction, but they were a huge part of that end-of-the-third-quarter run and rolling into the fourth quarter, then those last three or four minutes, carrying us.”

Celtics rookie Jordan Walsh, a 19-year-old playing his third professional game, came up big in the decisive fourth quarter.

He turned a steal into a contested dunk with a bonus free throw for a three-point play. He worked a give-and-go alley-oop with DJ Steward. He beat the shot clock with a clutch 3-pointer to give Maine its first double-digit lead. He worked a textbook pick-and-roll with point guard JD Davison and made a tough shot in the paint. On the next possession, Walsh ran a similar play but this time kicked a pass to Steward for a 3-pointer that ended the scoring.


And he did it all with a passion that fed the crowd’s energy, which reflected back to the court. At game’s end, he ran along the sideline, slapping hands with fans.

“I thought, down the stretch, he played so much more assertive, so much more aggressive, so much more confident,” Mueller said. “He made a couple really high-level passes in traffic to guys. And defensively, he was so locked in.”

Walsh finished with 16 points, third-best for Maine, but 10 of those came in the fourth quarter. He and Davison each made three steals.

Davison led all scorers with 27 points and hit 5 of 9 from beyond the 3-point arc. He added 12 assists. With his two-toned lion’s mane hair and Walsh’s alopecia, they make a fascinating pair and clearly have a connection both with each other and the fans.

The victory puts Maine at 1-2. Long Island, whose roster includes former Maine Celtics Kaiser Gates and Scottie Lindsey, is 3-1.

The teams play again Sunday afternoon at the Expo.


The home opener included 18 seconds of silence in honor of the Lewiston shooting victims. A Lewiston Strong banner, with a blue heart, stands above Sections 5 and 6. The halftime show featured dozens of youthful unicyclists from the Topsham-based Woodside One Wheelers, perenially crowd favorites.

As for the game, it was tight throughout the first half. The Nets took a 54-52 lead into intermission, then started pulling ahead late in the third.

Maine closed out the quarter on an 11-2 run, however, capped by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Jordan Schakel, set up by Davison.

Noah Clowney led Long Island with 22 points. Steward came off the bench to contribute 17 points and eight rebounds for Maine, not bad for the backup point guard.

“That was kind of our goal,” Mueller said of the fourth-quarter surge, “to give (the fans) something to come back on Sunday for.”

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