The Maine Red Claws saw a 26-point lead disappear Sunday and needed to rally to beat the Springfield Armor 100-95.
Abdul Gaddy led Maine with 19 points, including a go-ahead 3-pointer with 54 seconds left. He was 5-of-5 from beyond the arc.
Maine improved to 19-25, while Springfield dropped to 20-26.
Both teams were eliminated from the NBA D-League playoffs Saturday night, leaving them battling for pride and third place in the East Division.
Maine won the season series between the two New England rivals, 5-4.
“We’ve been undermanned and I’m really proud of the way our guys have been battling,” Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor said.
Maine continues to play with only eight players as two Red Claws are in the NBA: Chris Babb with Boston and Chris Wright with Milwaukee.
On Sunday, three Maine players recorded over 38 minutes of playing time – guard Tyshawn Taylor (18 points) and Frank Gaines (16) and forward Sherwood Brown (14 points).
Maine jumped to a 41-15 lead with 8:35 left in the second quarter, as the Armor shot only 16 percent (4-for-25).
“You can’t dig a hole like that, being 26 points down, and expect to win in this league,” Springfield Coach Doug Overton said.
But the Armor kept chipping away, finally taking a 93-92 lead with 4:44 left in the game.
“It’s about concentration and staying focused,” Mike Taylor said. “Sometimes we lose our attention to detail and teams take advantage.”
Daniel Orton (16 points) tied the game 93-93 with a free throw with 3:36 left.
Springfield squandered its next three possessions.
With two minutes left and the shot clock winding down, Gaddy drove through three Springfield players for a 95-93 lead.
“My guy came up so my immediate instinct was to drive by him,” Gaddy said. “Once I moved into the lane, I was looking at (6-foot-9 Armor center) Willie Reed. If he was going to commit to me, I was going to drop it to (Orton).
“He didn’t, so I was able to get to the rim.”
Reed’s put-back tied the game at 95, with 1:10 left.
Maine passed the ball inside to Orton. He sent it back out to Brown, who passed over to Gaddy, whose 3-pointer swished with 54 seconds left.
“I thought Sherwood was going to shoot it,” Gaddy said. “Once he got it to me, I had to shoot it with confidence.”
Springfield missed its next two shots. Orton’s two free throws with 13 seconds left clinched it.
NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 2,570 … The Red Claws play Wednesday at Canton and then return to the Expo for three games to end their home schedule, Friday, Sunday and next Monday … While Babb is signed for the rest of the Celtics season (averaging 2.3 points and 10 minutes a game), Wright’s 10-day contract with Milwaukee expires Monday. He will either be re-signed or returned to Maine.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at: