The presence of four players with NBA contracts helped provide the Maine Red Claws with an impressive start, but it wasn’t enough to hold off the defending G League champions.

Raptors 905 won its ninth straight Sunday afternoon at the Portland Expo, overcoming an 18-point deficit to beat the Red Claws 100-93 before a crowd of 2,417.

Lorenzo Brown led the comeback with 32 points and nine assists. Kadeem Allen had 24 points and five steals for Maine, which saw a nine-point halftime lead disappear in the third quarter as the Raptors clamped down on defense and outscored the Claws 33-16.

“That’s the second-best defensive team in the league for a reason,” said Maine Coach Brandon Bailey. “They cause a lot of havoc with their size and their length and their athleticism.”

Abdel Nader and Guerschon Yabusele, who suited up for the Boston Celtics in Brooklyn on Saturday night, drove up from Boston on Sunday morning and helped the Claws to leads of 24-11 in the first quarter and 45-27 in the second.

Everything seemed to be going Maine’s way when Yabusele finished off a fast break with an alley-oop dunk from Andrew White, but the visitors whittled away at the deficit and reached intermission trailing 53-44.

“We just told the guys to keep working,” said Nathaniel Mitchell, the former Red Claws assistant who, as part of Toronto’s development program, was given the opportunity to serve as the Raptors head coach Sunday. “I think when we came out, we didn’t impose our will defensively, and we’ve been a really good defensive team.”

Maine never managed consecutive baskets in the third quarter and entered the fourth trailing 77-69. Two free throws by Yabusele following a flagrant offensive foul by Shevon Thompson cut the margin to 77-75 early in the fourth, and White had a chance to put the Red Claws ahead but couldn’t bury a 3-point attempt.

They came no closer.

“We kept competing,” Allen said, “but they kept making shots.”

Thompson and Kennedy Meeks each pulled down 12 rebounds for the Raptors, who enjoyed a 53-36 advantage on the glass, including 16 offensive rebounds to Maine’s eight.

“I felt like we played really good defense up until a point where we’d get a stop,” Bailey said, “and then we weren’t able to finish the play in terms of getting the rebound.”

Yabusele finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, while Nader had 11 points and three rebounds. Each blocked three shots. The other Claws with NBA contracts are two-way players Allen and Jabari Bird, who had 14 points and four assists.

Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft who recently joined the Claws, finished with five points on 1-for-6 shooting. He also blocked two shots and grabbed four rebounds in 20 minutes.

The Claws leave Tuesday for two games at the G League Showcase in Mississauga, Ontario. They return to the Expo for a makeup game next Monday against Austin.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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