Maine Celtics

Maine Celtics' Late Rally Falls Short

February 22, 2024 - NBA G League (G League)
Maine Celtics News Release

BIRMINGHAM, AL - The Maine Celtics went on a 12-2 run over the course of just a minute and 24 seconds during crunch time, clawing back from a 10-point deficit to tie it up before a go-ahead bucket from Dereon Seabron handed the Birmingham Squadron a 127-125 win.

Joe Wieskamp led Maine (11-10) with a career-high 36 points, shooting 13-17 from the floor and 6-10 from downtown, along with six rebounds, two blocks and two steals. JD Davison followed with 28 points, four rebounds, eight assists and three steals. Drew Peterson notched 18 points on 8-16 shooting, nine rebounds and six assists while Tony Snell added 12 points. Jordan Walsh scored 11 points and DJ Steward tallied 10 and five assists.

Malcolm Hill scored 27 points to lead Birmingham (9-12). Karlo Matkovic put up 19 points and nine rebounds in his first G League appearance, and Seabron finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. E.J. Liddell had 16 points and 10 rebounds while Jalen Crutcher posted 10 points and five assists. Landers Nolley II totaled 12 points and Izaiah Brockington logged 11 points.

The scoring opened with an easy one-handed jam from Kylor Kelley, finishing a smooth drop-off pass from Walsh. Wieskamp came out of the gates firing on all cylinders, scoring eight points in four minutes as Maine led 13-8 in the early going. From there, the Celtics extended the lead to double digits with a 6-0 run, executing at a high level in the halfcourt at the start despite the eight-day layoff. The Squadron put together a pair of runs late in the first, pulling within three after the Celtics led by as many as 11 points. Liddell led Birmingham with seven points while Maine shot 5-10 from 3-point land in the opening frame, handing them a 30-27 lead after one.

The Squadron jumped ahead with a 7-0 run to open the second, with Wieskamp breaking the ice for Maine on his third 3-pointer of the evening. Maine retook the lead on a triple from Davison and Wieskamp's 1-for-2 free throw lengthened it back to two possessions, 38-34 soon after. Davison drilled an elbow pull-up a few trips later, slowly getting himself acclimated as a scorer while Wieskamp shouldered the load with 18 first-half points. Birmingham pulled within three again as the newcomer Matkovic made an impact early in his first appearance with the Squadron, though Davison had fully warmed up by the end of the frame. On the back of 11 points and three assists in the second quarter from its second-year point guard, the Celtics went into the half with a 62-54 advantage.

Birmingham held the Celtics scoreless to start a second-straight quarter, this time trimming the deficit to two with a 6-0 run out of the locker room. Matkovic threw down a couple of thunderous dunks as the Squadron scored on five of their first six possessions of the third, building the run to 15-7 by the frame's first stoppage. Tied at 69, the Celtics ripped off an 8-0 run out of the timeout, with all eight coming from Davison and Snell. Brockington and Hill each hit a three to get it right back - trading runs was a theme in the third, with Maine going up by a few possessions before the Squadron battled right back. Birmingham threw the last punch in the quarter, though, finishing with a 6-0 run to take a 90-89 lead into the fourth.

Amid some more back-and-forth at the start of the final quarter, Wieskamp took a block coast-to-coast for a layup, scoring Maine's first seven points of the frame while Matkovic scored the first five for Birmingham. Not long after, Wieskamp eclipsed his previous career-high in scoring on his sixth triple of the evening, giving himself 32 points with over eight minutes to play. Steward nailed a three to put Maine back ahead, 104-102, but it only took about a minute-and-a-half for the Squadron to take a 110-106 lead. Birmingham's #1 offense showed out in crunch time, generating quality looks at the rim and from distance that helped them maintain their small lead. Davison would knock down a 1-for-2 at the line to bring Maine within a couple, but a back-breaking 8-0 run from Birmingham handed them a 10-point stiff arm in the closing minutes.

Or, at least what seemed to be a back-breaking run; trailing 123-113 with 1:48 remaining, the Celtics scored off a pair of turnovers, the second being an inbounds pass that Davison immediately put back up to make it a two-point game, and then Steward sank a 20-foot pull-up on the next possession to tie it at 125 with 14.3 seconds to go. With the game coming down to the last shot, the Squadron went to Seabron, and he delivered. Slashing through the left side of the lane with defenders on his hip, Seabron finished a reverse layup with 1.3 on the clock for the go-ahead bucket. The Squadron defended Maine's buzzer-beating inbounds attempt well, earning themselves a narrow victory. Both teams shot north of 50% from the field, made at least 12 3-pointers, and combined for a whopping 128 points in the paint in a high-octane contest.

The Celtics and Squadron round out a back-to-back set tomorrow at 8:00 PM. Maine then returns home for a matchup with the Westchester Knicks on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 1:00 PM.

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