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Whitehead scores 41, but two costly errors lead to Long Island loss

Long Island Nets

Isaiah Whitehead scored 41 points Tuesday night but committed two costly errors in the last minute and the Long Island Nets lost to the Lakeland Magic, 120-118, jeopardizing their playoff hopes with two games to go in the season.

With Long Island ahead by three with 40 seconds left following a Whitehead floater, a series of bizarre began to play out. With 34 seconds left, Whitehead fouled Alan Anderson, the 35-year-old former Nets who’s been playing in the G-League, hoping for a comeback. The veteran made both but the Nets took the ball out, leading by one.

Whitehead threw the ball away and Jamel Artis came away with it. He ran rushed down court for a layup. He hit the shot, drew a foul on James Webb III and hit the free throw to put the Magic up 118-116.

Again, the Nets turned to Whitehead and he drove the lane, got fouled and tied the game with 18.9 seconds left. Then came the most bizarre and criticial play of the evening.

With time running down, Troy Caupain of Lakeland decided to swing a pass to Anderson rather than drive to the rim. Whitehead collided with Anderson near the three point line and after a brief review, the officials awarded two free throws to Anderson and he made both with one second to go. Game over.

With two games to go, the Nets are now out of the G-League playoffs. They’re tied with Lakeland for the third wild card, but Lakeland holds the tiebreaker. They have two games left, with the Maine Red Claws and the Grand Rapid Drive. Lakeland has two left as well. In the most likely scenario for the Nets to get in, they will have to win both their games and Lakeland will have to lose one of theirs. It will be the Nets first trip to the post-season if they can come back.

Whitehead has been looking like the G-League’s best player of late. In the past four games, he’s averaged 30 points a game. On Tuesday, he hit 13-of-24 overall, 3-of-8 from three and 12-of-14 at the line, playing at various points, the 1, 2 and 3. Four other Nets scored in double figures, led by Jeremy Senglin’s 20 off the bench.

In addition to Anderson, Byron Mullens, another NBA vet who joined the Magic late in the season, led the charge in the fourth quarter. The 7-footer scored six of his 18 points and grabbed six of his 12 rebounds in the final quarter as the lead changed hands 13 times down the stretch. Artis and Rodney Purvis, on assignment from the Magic, each scored 20 points to lead the Magic charge.