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Portland, ME – It turns out the hectic journey for Celtics rookie Lester Hudson wasn’t so important. The Maine Red Claws used a big first half run and high percentage shooting in the first half to run away from the Bakersfield Jam, 105-82. It was a balanced attack from the Red Claws, who had five players in double figures.
“I have a lot of depth right now and it’s a great luxury to have as a coach,” Red Claws head coach Austin Ainge said. “I even have some guys who didn’t play much at all who can score given the opportunity. We have a lot of scorers and when we play defense with those scorers we’re a very good team.”
Bakersfield came within 10 points late in the third quarter and trailed by 11 after three frames. The Jam outscored Maine 35-23 in the process.
“In the third quarter we started a little slow and just didn’t play very good defense,” Ainge said. “We let them score too many points in that quarter and in the fourth quarter we turned it back up again and were able to put them away.”
Hudson didn’t arrive in Portland until after tip-off but he wasn’t needed as Maine jumped out to a 59-36 halftime lead thanks to 14 points by Billy Thomas and 11 from Darnell Lazare. The Red Claws shot 55% in the first half and was 6-13 from three point land. The Claws led by as many as 25 in the first half.
“We had a great run in the second half of the first quarter and the second quarter where we got a bunch of steals and got out and got some transition dunks and threes and that kind of opened the game from there,” Ainge said.
“I had to come straight from the airport to get here,” Hudson said. “I had to warm up a little before I got in there, I thought I did okay.”
“(Hudson) has only been away from us for about a week so he knows what we’re doing,” Ainge said. “He just missed a flight and got here halfway through the first quarter and so he didn’t have his legs back so I got him a few minutes when the game was out of hand already.”
The Red Claws took control of the game in the first quarter after a cagey first few minutes. With the score 15-13 Jam, the Claws went on a 24-4 run over the next quarter to push the lead to 37-19. The Jam continually turned the ball over which led to several fast break buckets for the Red Claws.
“That’s always going to be the chance to get a lot of runs,” Ainge said. “That’s a good way to get out and get some steals and some easy baskets.”
The Claws are next in action on Sunday, against Bakersfield again. SportsofBoston.com will also be live blogging that game.