It was the first time the Long Island Nets and the Rio Grande Valley Vipers have played since the 2019 NBA G League Finals back in April. Despite both teams having complete makeovers since last spring, it was the same result as Game 3 of the finals.
Long Island, despite coming back from a 22-point deficit in the second half, fell to Rio Grande Valley, 127-124 at the G League Winter Showcase. Long Island were without one of their two-way players, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, who has solidified his role in the Brooklyn Nets rotation.
The game was part of the G League’s Winter Showcase in Las Vegas, a mid-season tournament in Las Vegas featuring all 28 teams.
Despite the loss, the Nets had five players finish in double-figures, led by Henry Ellenson. The Nets 6’11” two-way, who has been filling the stretch 5 role with Long Island, finished with a G League career high and a double-double of 33 points and 12 rebounds in 38 minutes. Ellenson shot 14-of-19 from the field and 3-of-6 from three in the loss.
Devin Cannady also had a good game for the Nets. The 6’2” sharpshooter finished with 23 points, three rebounds, and four assists in 33 minutes of play including this acrobatic shot...
Jonathan Kasibabu, the 6’8” Fairfield product got the start at the center position for the Nets and finished with 14 points and four rebounds. Ash Yacoubou, the Nets small forward, also finished with 14 points in the loss. Jaylen Hands finished with seven points and four assists.
As a team, the Nets shot 49-of-91 from the field (54 percent) and 11-of-35 from the field (31 percent). Long Island coughed up a total of 24 total turnovers in the loss.
For the Vipers, Angel Rodriguez led the way with 26 points in 33 minutes of play followed by Chris Clemons, who finished with 25 points in 31 minutes.
As a team, Rio Grande Valley shot 42-of-98 from the field (43 percent) and 15-of-42 from three (36 percent) in the win. The defending champions recorded 15 turnovers in the loss.
Long Island’s coach Shaun Fein started, Cannady, Yacoubou, Kasibabu, Hands and CJ Williams.
Jameer Nelson, now the Vipers analyst, called it during the game, “everything that could go wrong for Long Island in the first half is going wrong.”
The Nets did not play well defensively in the first quarter. The Vipers began the quarter on a 12-4 scoring run, scoring for all areas of the floor. Long Island struggled throughout the quarter on switches and the Vipers penetration and kick plays. In addition, the Nets struggled to defend the driving lane. The Vipers closed out the first quarter on a 19-6 scoring run, heading into the second quarter with a 20 point lead.
At the end of one, the Nets trailed 42-22.
Ellenson led the Nets in first quarter scoring with nine points to go along with three rebounds in eight minutes of play. The Nets two-way shot 4-of-5 from the field and 1-of-1 from three. Williams had a solid first quarter, scoring seven points on 3-of-6 shooting from the field and 0-of-2 from three in eight minutes of play.
As a team, the Nets shot 9-of-24 from the field (38 percent) and 1-of-8 from three (13 percent), recording five first quarter turnovers.
Long Island bounced back in the second quarter. After both teams started the second consistently on both ends of the floor, the Nets began to cut at the Vipers heavy lead midway through the second quarter. With 3:07 left in the first half, the Net went on a 9-2 scoring run, cutting their deficit to 11 points but the Vipers began to find a rhythm to close out the half and rebuild their lead.
The Nets outscored the Vipers in the second quarter 32-30.
At the end of the first half, the Nets trailed 72-54. Ellenson continued his offensive dominance, recording 18 first half points to lead the Nets.
As a team, the Nets shot 20-of-47 from the field (43 percent) but 4-of-18 from three (22 percent).
The second half was a much different story for the Nets. Long Island was visibly playing with more energy and began to make a comeback, cutting the lead to single digits. The Nets were moving the ball with more fluidity while being patient on the offensive end. The Nets ended the third quarter on a 11-3 run, cutting their game-long deficit to only 11 points.
At the end of three, the Nets trailed 98-87.
Ellenson continued to lead the Nets on the offensive end of the floor, recording 22 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes of play. He shot 9-of-13 from the field and 2-of-4 from three. Despite putting together a good stat line, Ellenson was -21 after three.
As a team, the Nets shot 34-of-69 (49 percent) and 7-of-25 from three (28 percent) heading into the fourth. As a negative note, turnovers continued to rack up, tallying 18 turnovers after three.
After trailing by 11 to start the fourth, the Nets tied the game off a three by Ellenson with 3:42 left in the game. The three made by Ellenson was his 31st point of the game, tying his career high. Then, the Vipers took back the lead, leading by 119-115 with 1:06 remaining. Despite coming back, the Nets could not hold on in the end, falling to the Vipers by a final score of 127-124.
The Nets look to bounce back when they face Northern Arizona Suns Saturday night in Vegas. They return home to face the Erie Bayhawks on Friday, December 27 at Nassau Coliseum.