HOFFMAN ESTATES, IL – The Windy City Bulls, presented by BMO Harris Bank, the NBA G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, dropped the first game of their four-game road trip in a 112-109 loss to the Maine Red Claws on Sunday afternoon inside the Portland Expo Building.
For the 19th time this season, Antonio Blakeney had a 30-point performance and poured in a game-high 37 points on 12 made field-goals. CJ Fair had his best offensive day as a Windy City Bull and scored 16 points off the bench, while Ryan Arcidiacono and Mychal Mulder tallied 13 points apiece. Tyler Harris pitched in with 12 points and Jaylen Johnson scored eight points and grabbed 10 rebounds, his 17th double-digit rebound game of the season.
Maine almost led wire-to-wire as Windy City played with the lead for a grand total of 27 seconds. The Red Claws made their first three shots to start the game and raced out an early 7-0 lead. Windy City went scoreless for the first three and a half minutes, until a pair of free throws put the Bulls on the board. Blakeney led Windy City in scoring and tallied seven, first quarter points, but Vitto Brown served as the catalyst for Maine scoring eight points, while knocking down all three of his shots. The Bulls offensive struggles were apparent as they shot 21 percent overall, managed to score just 16 points and trailed by seven at the end of the opening 12 minutes.
The Red Claws had three players who scored 20 or more points led by Kadeem Allen who tallied 28 points and added six assists. Daniel Dixon played a game-high 42 minutes and scored 24 points, while Guerschon Yabusele, who was on assignment from the Boston Celtics, scored 23 points, grabbed a career-high 16 rebounds and dished out five assists. Vito Brown made all five of his shot attempts and scored 13 points while Trey Davis added nine points off the bench.
Yabusle opened the second quarter with a three-point basket to give the Red Claws their first double-digit lead of the afternoon. Maine went on to grab an 11-point lead, but were unable to put the game out of reach. The Bulls battled back and took their first lead on a pair of free throws by Arcidiacono, but on the ensuing possession, L.J. Peak knocked in a three-pointer to give Maine the lead for good. Windy City’s offense picked up in the second to the tune of 35 points in the period on 55 percent shooting with Blakeney scoring 11 of those points. The Red Claws were efficient and scored 34 points of their own and led 57-51 at the intermission.
Harris opened the second half with back-to-back baskets to make it a one possession game. Windy City trimmed the lead to little as one, but never found themselves on top. The third quarter was similar to the second as it was tightly contested with neither team creating much separation. After trailing by as many as eight, Alex Hamilton scored on a driving layup to make it a one score game once more, but the Red Claws made the final bucket of the quarter on a put back layup by Yabusele with five ticks left in the period. Maine outscored Windy City by one and went into the final 12 minutes with an 84-79 lead.
The start of the final 12 minutes wasn’t favorable to the Bulls as the Red Claws scored 11 of the first 13 points in the period. Blakeney had another nice quarter with 11 points, but Allen served as the driving force, scoring nine points while knocking down four of his five shots from the field. Windy City made things interesting down the stretch and closed within two points, with just over a minute remaining, but Davis finished the game in style with consecutive baskets to seal the win.
Maine’s three-point victory snapped an eight-game losing streak and was the first time they’d beaten the Bulls this season. Windy City continues its road trip on Tuesday with a match-up against the 87ers who they recently beat last Wednesday. Tip-off is 5:30 CST at the Bob Carpenter Sports Convention Center.
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