The snowstorm undoubtedly contributed to a half-empty Portland Expo on Thursday night as the Maine Red Claws attempted to end a frustrating stretch of their NBA G League basketball season.

After a first half that included 15 lead changes, the third quarter ended like this:

Red Claws guard L.J. Peak tried to dribble through two defenders with 5 seconds left, lost the ball, and visiting Canton transitioned into a two-on-one fast break culminating in Isaac Hamilton’s alley-oop pass off the backboard to the trailing JaCorey Williams for a ferocious dunk that gave the Charge the game’s first double-digit advantage.

The Red Claws never again threatened, losing 112-103 to Canton before a crowd announced as 1,440. The loss was Maine’s fourth in succession and 12th in 13 games.

“Lack of effort on both ends of the floor,” said Maine Coach Brandon Bailey. “We should be right there to win, every single game. There’s just a hump in there that we’ve got to overcome, mentally more so than physically.”

Williams finished with a game-high 29 points for Canton, which played without either of its two-way NBA players, John Holland and London Perrantes.

Trey Davis came off the bench to lead the Claws with 25 points, all but six in the second half.

“I’m trying to get better,” Davis said. “I’m trying to help the team stay focused and get a win.”

Devin Williams (15 points, 11 rebounds) and Anthony Bennett (11 of each) had double-doubles. Daniel Dixon added 15 points, Kadeem Allen 12 and Vitto Brown 10.

Although only 3-20 on the road, the Red Claws are 14-7 inside the Expo, where they had won four of their previous five.

“I love this place,” Davis said. “I know there were people who tried to come and support us, and probably they couldn’t get their car out (in the snow). I like the people in the stands, and I’m just thankful and grateful for it.”

A Davis jumper gave the Claws their biggest lead, 30-24, late in the first quarter. They led 46-41 in the second after a Daniel Dingle 3-pointer and went into the break ahead 56-55.

Williams and Grant Jerrett (26 points) led a 14-3 Canton run early in the third quarter to take the lead for good.

“We still have a small chance,” said Canton Coach Nate Reinking of the Charge (19-25) sneaking into the playoffs. “This league is crazy so you never know.”

With six games remaining, the Claws (17-27) are sputtering. Six teams from the East will advance to the playoffs. Maine is 11th.

“What we’re asking them to do is not complicated,” Bailey said. “Right now it’s a matter of stop feeling sorry for ourselves and do what we need to do to get a win.”

Bailey, in his first year as a head coach, said he has tried every motivational tactic he knows, drawn upon everything he learned under mentors Doc Rivers and Brad Stevens of the Celtics, Doug Bruno at DePaul and his own father from high school in Illinois.

“If people have ideas, send them in,” he said. “You watch the Celtics. There’s no doubt what they’re playing for. They’re playing for a championship.

“When you watch us play, I don’t know what we’re playing for. But the answer should be very clear in this league. You’re playing for a contract. That’s what you’re playing for. That’s bigger, in my opinion, than a championship. You’re playing for your (livelihood), for people who are counting on you. For us not to play with maximum effort regardless of where we’re at in the standings or what our win-loss record is, is unacceptable. It’s playing for yourself, for each other, because they can’t do it without each other.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

[email protected]

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

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