The Canton Charge defeated the Maine Red Claws 110-99 on Thursday night. The game wasn’t even that close. At one point, the Charge were up by 28 points in the second half.
The Charge came into the contest with a record of 28-18 and the Red Claws came in with a record of 28-17 and though the Charge led the season series 2-1, their team records would have indicated that there should have been a closer contest.
Instead, Kay Felder (playing for the Charge on assignment from the Cleveland Cavaliers) opened up the game with a three-pointer from above the break and, after a floater from Demetrius Jackson of the Red Claws, a strike from midrange.
All of the sudden, the Charge were up 5-2 and Felder (who has scored 25 points or more in every game he’s played for the Charge) was heating up. A steal by Eric Moreland, who jumped the passing lane and showed some more of his guard-like skills in driving full-court for the layup, put the Cavs up 7-2. Boom! A three-pointer from John Holland was next on the Charge’s itinerary. As they went up 10-2, they never looked back.
Tight defense kept the Red Claws at bay even when the Charge weren’t hitting their shots. A spectator even quipped that the Charge’s defense was better than the Cleveland Cavaliers defense, as the guards had no problems getting over their screens, every three-point shot was contested and Moreland controlled the paint and the glass.
Never hesitating to get out in the open court and run, the Charge erupted for 15 more points before the 5-foot-9 Felder caught what would be his first alley-oop of the game. After going up 27-13 following a nice post move by Moreland, the Red Claws clawed their way back into the game before the end of the first quarter. At the beginning of the second quarter, the score was 30-22.
Unfortunately, when Jordon Crawford was the lead guard, the Charge looked out of sorts and were unable to score for most of the time he was the floor general in the first half. That all seemed to change when Felder re-entered the game. While the Charge were unable to protect the rim or gather rebounds with Moreland on the bench and Larry Sanders having been called-up before the Cleveland Cavaliers game against the Charlotte Hornets, Felder found his teammates for a few nice buckets.
The Claws cut the lead down to 44-40 as they started hitting shots and the Charge started to turn the ball over, a role reversal from the first quarter. A couple of baskets from Felder and Holland along with solid defense from Moreland and Cameron Jones allowed the Charge to push the lead up to 52-40 with 2:19 left in the half. Two consecutive baskets by Moreland put the Charge up 56-40. The Charge finished the half with five straight points from Felder, going up 63-44 before the second half.
In the third quarter, more of that solid defense and balanced scoring from the starters led the Charge to go up 73-49 with nearly nine minutes left in the third quarter. The next play? Another fastbreak alley-oop with Felder on the receiving end. With five and a half minutes left in the third, the Charge had their 28-point lead after a three from Holland. Without Moreland on the court, the defense suffered again but the Charge and Red Claws would trade baskets for the rest of the quarter. The score was 92-70 at the end of the third.
Perhaps feeling the comfort of the lead, the Charge’s focus and ball-movement disappeared after they took a 94-70 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter. Before they knew it, the lead was down to 13 points with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter. The Charge were turning the ball over and missing shots as the Red Claws kept shooting the three-ball and hitting their shots. Following a couple of turnovers from Felder, the lead was down to 9 with 4:34 left in the game. It was down to 8 with 2:15 minutes left.
Solid defense from Moreland led to the Red Claws shooting a lot of threes from the outside at the end, which they weren’t hitting. Felder and Holland made baskets at the end to push the lead to 13 with 38.2 second left in the contest. Though the Charge almost let the game slip away, they won 110-99 following a pair of free-throws by Jackson with 6.4 seconds remaining on the clock.
While the long-ball was missing from Felder’s game, he showed a couple of nifty post moves and finished above-the-rim in the fastbreak to make up for it. Finishing the game with 9 assists, Felder also did a good job of finding the open man. He finished the game with 26 points as well.
Moreland controlled the paint with 16 rebounds and 5 blocked shots and had an efficient scoring night, going 7-9 from the field for 14 points.
Holland and Jonathan Holmes took advantage of their opportunities by combining for 41 points. The bench, led by Gerald Beverley’s 14 points, chipped in 21 points.
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