With two seconds remaining and the score tied at 91, the Springfield Armor drew up one final play.
Forward Damian Johnson inbounded the ball to Lance Hurdle, who immediately took a fade away 3-pointer from the corner. The shot was well short, but L.D. Williams came streaking to the hoop off a back screen and channeled his inner Lorenzo Charles as he emphatically slammed home the game-winner at the buzzer, winning the game for the Armor, 93-91 (box score) in dramatic fashion over the Maine Red Claws Thursday night at the MassMutual Center in Springfield.
“Our philosophy is that on a last second play, you always back screen someone to the rim,” said Armor head coach Bob MacKinnon. “We were looking for the first clean look we had and then we had our best athlete going to the rim.”
“I told Lance it was heck of a pass,” joked MacKinnon.
The Armor (11-10) stole this game from the Red Claws (7-15).
Springfield trailed by nine going into the fourth quarter and fell further behind in the opening minutes, down 81-68 with nine minutes to play.
But Springfield went on a 15-1 run over the next 4:30, capped off by a Hurdle free throw that gave the Armor an 83-82 lead — Springfield’s first since the opening quarter.
“We told them at the start of the third quarter, just hang in there, just keep coming,” said MacKinnon. “We’ll go possession by possession and if we do that and we start getting stops, we’ll be fine.”
Springfield’s defense was more disciplined in the final stages of the game, propelling them to the comeback win. The Red Claws shot 48% from the field through three quarters, but the Armor defense held them to just 3-18 shooting in the fourth.
“I thought our focused changed, I thought we did a much better job of taking away the things they we’re looking to do,” said MacKinnon.
“I told our guys we didn’t play well and I think the sign of a good team is when you don’t play well and you win,” said MacKinnon.
Jerry Smith had a terrific all-around game for the Armor with 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and five steals. L.D. Williams’ game-winning dunk gave him a game-high 19 points. Newly assigned Jordan Williams recorded a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds in his D-League debut.
Maine had five players in double-figures, three of them coming off the bench. Lawrence Hill had team-high 16, while former-Armor guard, Morris Almond, had 15 points off the bench. Former NBA-veteran, Ricky Davis, had 14 points.
Springfield hits the road to take on the Dakota Wizards Saturday night. Maine returns home to take on Erie in a weekend two-game series.
Notes: Springfield has a three game road trip coming up. Dakota, Iowa, and Canton are all on the schedule before the Armor returns home Jan. 26…The next Armor home game will involve another former-Celtic, as Antoine Walker and the Idaho Stampede return to the Bay State…Dennis Horner was in Springfield after being waived by the Nets earlier this week. He has to clear waivers (10 a.m. Friday morning) before rejoining the Armor.