By GLENN JORDAN
Special to AmicoHoops.net
PORTLAND, Maine — Kay Felder opened the game with a 26-foot jumper that swished through the net. He closed it with a puzzling decision to dunk at the buzzer, after most players were standing around with their shirts untucked, the home team having conceded a 110-99 loss.
Felder, the 5-foot-9-inch Cavaliers rookie point guard, scored 26 points and dished out nine assists in his 11th NBA Development League assignment with the Canton Charge Thursday night. He also posed like a prizefighter after baskets and exhorted his teammates against a team, the Maine Red Claws, that could be Canton’s first-round opponent in the upcoming D-League playoffs.
“I think the Cavs are doing a great job of bringing me down, calling me up, letting me see what Kyrie (Irving) or LeBron (James) is doing and bringing it down here and helping these guys out as well,” Felder said. “It’s not just for me. I can also help these guys as well with what I see up there.”
Included in Felder’s point total were a pair of two-handed slams off lob passes, both from Roosevelt Jones, to impress a crowd of 2,287.
“I can go catch any lob,” he said. “I’m pretty confident in my ability to jump.”
Felder also had six turnovers and took 33 shots (making 12), all of them game highs. Canton (29-18) never trailed Thursday night, and led by as many as 28 points after Felder set up Eric Moreland (14 points, 16 rebounds) for a dunk to make it 79-51.
Maine (28-18) saw its four-game winning streak end.
“He’s very aggressive when he comes down,” Canton coach Nate Reinking said of Felder. “He’s in that winning culture with the Cavs all the time so when he comes down, he brings an extra pace, an extra gear, that I think raises the level of our guys just by being around him.”
John Holland, taking 16 fewer shots than Felder, led the Charge in scoring with 28 points. He was 11 for 17 from the field, including 4 of 6 on 3-pointers. Felder was 1 of 9 from deep, sinking only his first attempt.
“We talked about him a fair bit this week,” Maine coach Scott Morrison said. “He’s a very good player, obviously. He’s averaging 30 points a game. I didn’t think his scoring was the end of us (Thursday). I thought our transition defense was the reason we lost the game, but Felder also hurt us passing the ball. … We’ve got to be able to contest his shots without taking three guys to do it.”
Canton outscored Maine on fast-break points 20-5. The Red Claws had two Celtics on assignment, point guard Demetrius Jackson and center Jordan Mickey. It was Mickey who went up to contest Felder’s dunk, which didn’t quite beat the final buzzer, and took issue with it afterward, although the two did not exchange words on the court.
“I take pride in being a professional and not doing anything like that at the end of a game,” Mickey said. “No NBA team I know of would do that. I know the Celtics wouldn’t do it for sure and I doubt the Cavaliers would do something like that. Guys know better than to do stuff like that.”
Felder, who received an inbounds pass after a pair of Jackson free throws with 6.5 seconds remaining, said he decided against dribbling out the clock.
“I knew the time was about to run out and I was a little frustrated,” he said. “Then Rosie (Jones) told me to go dunk it, so I always want to listen to my teammates. He told me go dunk so that’s what I did.”
Felder said he was surprised to see Mickey contest the shot.
“If I see somebody in there, then I’m going to try to dunk on them,” Felder said. “I (saw) him try to jump so I just jumped.”
Mickey said he wanted to avoid injury on such a meaningless play, and so didn’t do anything crazy.
“It is what it is,” he said. “I’ll keep that in the back of my mind if we happen to play these guys again.”
Glenn Jordan covers the D-League for the Portland Press Herald.