It was a good couple of days for the Long Island Nets. Their new home, Nassau Coliseum, had its ribbon opening on Friday and they completed their first season in the D-League with a win over the Westchester Knicks, 116-108, on Saturday.
But as the season ended, there were questions about what will happen with their top prospects, both of whom the Nets organization sought out and acquired in mid-season: Cliff Alexander, who finished Saturday’s game with his fifth straight double-double, and R.J. Hunter, who hit a season-high six three pointers.
The two are free agents and can sign with any NBA team either before the season ends or starting in July. In fact, Ridiculous Upside, the SB Nation blog covering the D-League, tweeted out one possibility for Alexander.
The Magic have an open roster spot and could use a PF to slide into the 2nd unit.— Ridiculous Upside (@RidicUpside) April 1, 2017
The Magic filled that roster spot Sunday not with Alexander but with Marcus Georges-Hunt, a swingman who’s been playing this year with the Maine Red Claws.
Of course, the Nets could also sign Alexander or Hunter to a free agent deal or a summer league contract.
Playing center on Saturday, the 6’9”, 250-pound Alexander led all scorers with 27 points, earning a double-double with 15 rebounds. Over the last five, Alexander is averaging 28.3 points and 13.2 rebounds.
Boris Dallo recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Trahson Burrell scored 25 points and grabbed nine rebounds while Hunter chipped in 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting from deep. Trevor Cooney powered his way to 18 points.
On Friday, Burrell seemed to express some unhappiness with his situation...
The best revenge is to move on, get over it, and continue to succeed. Never give someone the satisfaction of watching you suffer— Trahson Burrell (@TBurrell_2) March 31, 2017
For the season, the Nets finished 17-33. Alexander finished the season averaging 15.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 51.7 percent shooting. Hunter averaged 18 points and 3.3 assists while shooting 32.1 percent from deep. He had seven games with four or more three-pointers. Burrell, who gained a reputation as a Swiss Army Knife, averaged 12.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists, while shooting 35.5 percent from deep.
Saturday’s game was close throughout. The first quarter featured four lead changes and one tie that came in the final minutes. Westchester was in control of the lead as the second period got underway, extending its margin by as many as six. After three ties and seven lead changes, the balance of power shifted into the hands of Long Island. The Nets hit 9-of-13 shots from beyond the arc and owned a 58.3 percent mark from the field. The Knicks surrendered 39 points in the second quarter, trailing by as many as 10. Long Island held an eight-point lead at the conclusion of the second.
Westchester managed a tie, but trailed for the rest of the third quarter. The Knicks battled back, forcing Long Island into seven turnovers, and converted 4-of-6 shots from three-point range. After trailing by as many as 12, Westchester cut the deficit to only two before the start of the fourth.
It was anyone’s game in the final period. The first seven minutes of the fourth featured four lead changes and three ties. Long Island found its breaking point and outscored the Knicks 16-3 in the final stretch of the game. Westchester was held to 21.4 percent from field goal range and was held to 17 points in the final quarter of its eventual defeat to the Long Island Nets.
Full game video can be found here.