FORT WAYNE – Darnell Lazare didn’t sign up for this.
The forward who returned to the Mad Ants after being released from Indiana Pacers training camp this season has had it up to here – and here, at 6-feet-9, is a long way up – with the losing.
But he had to endure one more night of it Thursday when the Ants fell behind in the third quarter and were never able to catch up in a 115-109 loss to the Maine Red Claws at Memorial Coliseum.
Entering the night three games out of the final NBA D-League playoff berth – against a team with a worse record, at home – the Ants let the opportunity to build any kind of momentum slide away in the loss to Maine, which now owns the same record as the Ants at 10-17.
The two teams will return to the Coliseum tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tip. And if Lazare, who had 31 points Thursday, has his wish, it will be a different outcome.
For me, personally, it’s very frustrating to come out and lose games, especially at home, especially with the kind of team we have, he said. We have a talented team – one of the best teams in this league. But our record doesn’t indicate that. It’s time for us to turn it around. No more excuses; no more next game.’ The time is now. So I’m going to do whatever I can do to convey that point and make sure that’s conveyed on the floor. It’s time to turn it around.
It was Ants coach Steve Gansey who had the sense of urgency when the team watched a 65-59 lead get turned into a 78-73 deficit through the midsection of the third quarter.
And the one leading the Red Claws charge was former Ants center Anthony Kent, who was traded to Maine just before the season began.
In 2 1/2 minutes, Kent had three dunks (two from offensive rebounds) and a free throw during Maine’s pull-away stretch.
It feels great to be with the fans and the atmosphere, said Kent, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds. It felt like everybody was rooting for me.
Not quite, although Gansey had to acknowledge Kent’s contributions.
He had five offensive rebounds. He’s active. He’s long, Gansey said.
He might not be the biggest guy, but he gets in there.
Kent will be one of the featured players when Gansey shows his team a highlight reel of Maine’s offensive rebounds in preparation for tonight’s game.
Rookie Cam Jones added 28 points for the Ants. Guard Kenny Hayes, who was held to three points in the first quarter, finished with 26 for Maine.