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Bennett, McCullough star in D-League but L.I. Nets lose

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Long Island Nets

The Nets, it appears, will continue to take advantage of Barclays Center “double headers” - those days and nights when the Long Island team plays in the afternoon and the Brooklyn team at night. On Sunday, the front office assigned Anthony Bennett and Chris McCullough to the Long Island Nets and if they were looking for the two to get minutes and a confidence boost, it worked.

Bennett, who has played well of late in limited minutes at the NBA level finished with 22 points on 9-of-18 shooting (3-of-8 from deep); eight rebounds, five assists, four steals and a block, all in 34 minutes. McCullough had a good game as well, with 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting (0-of-2 from deep), nine rebounds and one assist, steal and block. He played 29 minutes.

The Long Islanders lost, however, 112-98, to the Grand Rapids Drive. They are now 1-6, but if the priority is developing Nets players, the outing had to be seen as a success.

“Fortunately for us we’re in the same building. We practice in the same building, we play in the same building, we run the same system (as the Nets),” said L.I. Nets head coach Ronald Nored earlier this month, talking about Barclays Center and the HSS Training Center. “So, if that were to happen, guys come down with a seamless transition, no confusion. They can just come and play and get better.”

Indeed, the Long Island Nets play 22 of their 24 home games as part of “double-headers,” and in the first two, they’ve had at least one Brooklyn player assigned. McCullough has already had five assignments and call-ups for practice and games.

“I’m a big believer in the D-League. I’ve seen it help so many guys,” said coach Kenny Atkinson, citing Jeremy Lin with the Knicks. “It’s so helpful that it’s close [and] our D-League coach [Ronald Nored] was with us all preseason and so we’re running the same system. And to do it here at the Barclays Center, our coaches can go watch our guys play rather than traveling three or four hours. It’s a huge advantage.”

The two were recalled by Brooklyn a little more than an hour before the Nets game with Sacramento.

The Nets also got a great performance from their second round draft pick, Trahson Burrell, a 6’7” swingman out of Memphis. He finished with a team-high 24 points on 10-of-17 shooting, making both shots he took from the arc. He also grabbed a game-high 15 boards.

Bennett started out strong, with 14 points in the first seven minutes of the game as the Long Islanders and Drive traded baskets. In the second, it was all Drive as the Nets went down by as much as 15 and found themselves with a 10-point deficit at the half.

Then, in the third, the Nets came back, with McCullough and Burrell scoring buckets and Bennett contributing in other ways. The Nets went ahead 72-70 on a Gary Forbes three, but never led again. The game remained close until near the end of the game when Kevin Murphy (33 points) and Ray McCallum (27) hit one shot after another. The closest Long Island got was nine points with a minute left.

In addition to the three 20-somethings, Gary Forbes played well for Long Island. The 6’7” UMass product, who’s played 111 NBA games, finished with 16 points, all but one on a three pointer. Boris Dallo, the French point guard, played with a nose guard and didn’t hit any of his game averages.

Also, Long Island center Egidijus Mockevicius left the game after seven minutes, clutching his right shoulder after a collision under the basket. No word on the extent of his injury.

Full video of the game can be found here. Attendance was 1,377, slightly higher than the home opener last Wednesday.