Maine Celtics Stopped in Greensboro
December 2, 2022 - NBA G League (G League) - Maine Celtics News Release
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Maine Celtics, presented by Unum, let go of the rope in the final minutes of a tightly-contested matchup with the Greensboro Swarm, falling 123-120.
Luka Šamanić led Maine (8-3) with 31 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. Marvin Smith Jr. recorded a season-high 22 points to go with four rebounds. Denzel Valentine finished with 15 points, 16 rebounds, and four assists for his fifth double-double of the season. Two-Way player JD Davison notched 13 points and five assists and Kamar Baldwin had 13 points and three steals in his first start as a Celtic. Scottie Lindsey posted 13 points, three steals and two blocks.
Jalen Crutcher tallied 31 points for Greensboro (4-8), along with three rebounds and eight assists. Kobi Simmons logged 28 points, five rebounds and two steals. Charlotte Hornets assignee Mark Williams added 15 points, seven rebounds and four assists and JT Thor registered 13 points and eight rebounds on assignment from the Hornets. Ashton Hagans totaled 13 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. Anthony Duruji chipped in 13 points, five rebounds and three assists off the bench.
Smith came out of the gates hot, hitting a reverse layup off an offensive board, then a triple, and finally converting an and-one to score all of Maine's first eight points. Hagans got the Swarm going with a backcourt steal and high-flying jam. Šamanić scored Maine's next five as the rest of the Celtics began to catch fire, stretching the lead to 18-5 after a three from Valentine. Crisp ball movement and pace overwhelmed the Swarm at first, but they started to hit from distance and slowly chip away at the lead as the quarter closed. Williams' 1-for-2 free throw cut the deficit to three, 37-34, and the score stayed the same until the first ended.
Greensboro was able to match Maine's pace and high-octane offense as the night went on, and both teams were able to pressure the ball and force turnovers, with the Swarm reaching double-digits by the eight-minute mark of the second and the Celtics catching up soon after. A shot clock violation from Maine triggered a timeout from head coach Alex Barlow as they led, 48-45 midway through the quarter. Greensboro built a four-point lead that was quickly erased by a 5-0 solo run from Valentine. The first half closed with multiple explosive athletic plays, including rim-rattling dunks from Simmons and Davison before Duruji's and-one tied the game at 65 heading into the break. Šamanić put up 16 points in the first half with Smith adding 13 as Maine shot 8-18 from deep as a team.
A dunk from Šamanić and a triple from Davison put Maine up by five to begin the second half. The Swarm were able to knock down three triples in short order, but Marial Shayok's attacking and strong finishing kept Maine ahead for the time being. Crutcher would tie it on a tough layup, 78-78, and a three from Baldwin got the lead back briefly for the Celtics before five more points from Crutcher gave Greensboro an 83-81 lead. The two squads traded punches through the remainder of the third with the Swarm holding a one-possession lead, and they took a 94-91 advantage into the final quarter after a sprinting Shayok's transition layup rimmed out at the buzzer.
A 7-2 run from Greensboro built them a 101-93 lead early in the fourth, and an above-the-break three from Crutcher made it 104-97 and forced Barlow into a timeout with just over nine minutes to go. Maine flipped the script with a 9-2 run that tied the game, 106-106 with 6:13 remaining, though Thor and Simmons were able to stick a couple threes that built a two-possession lead for the Swarm. Šamanić and Smith were the main sources of offense for the Celtics tonight and they both made plays down the stretch, including Šamanić's clutch free throws that made it a two-point game before Duruji nailed a clutch three in the final minute. Between Thor's free-throw attempts, Baldwin and Valentine each nailed a three to keep the Celtics' chances alive as the seconds ticked away, but the Swarm ultimately held on to collect the victory, 123-120.
The Maine Celtics will round out a six-game road trip with a two-game set against the College Park Skyhawks, taking place on Dec. 4 and Dec. 6.
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