Dzanan Musa had one of his best games Friday night, but the Long Island Nets suffered their first loss since February 11 to the Boston Celtics affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, 125-114. With the loss, the Nets 10-game win streak, longest in the NBA G League this season, is now over.
The Nets did not have either of their two-way players Theo Pinson nor Alan Williams, who are with the Brooklyn Nets in Utah to face the Jazz. So it was up to Musa and he came through.
He finished with a game-high 34 points, six rebounds, and seven assists playing 35 minutes. The Nets are now 7-and-3 when Musa plays 35 or more minutes.
Mitch Creek stepped up as well. The Australian forward recorded 22 points, six rebounds, and two assists in 35 minutes of play.
Kamari Murphy, the 6’9” Brooklyn native, saw a big increase in minutes as he filled in for Big Sauce. Murphy played 35 minutes as well recording a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds.
For Maine, who is eliminated from playoff contention despite the win, had five players in double-figures.
Archie Goodwin, the ex-Net, played great off the bench for the Red Claws, recording 33 points, three rebounds, and four assists to lead the Red Claws.
Celtics’ two-way player P.J. Dozier finished with 26 points, five rebounds, and eight assists in a game-high 40 minutes.
Shelton Jeter had a great game recording 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists followed by Andrew White III, who had a strong game, scoring 20 points, five rebounds, and one assist in the win.
With no Pinson or Williams for the Nets, Will Weaver started Jordan McLaughlin, Tahjere McCall, Musa, Creek, and Murphy.
The Nets opened the first quarter going 2-for-7 from the field. The three-ball was not working for either early. Long Island began to get into a rhythm midway through the first quarter.
The Nets focused their offense inside the arc while playing good defense on the other end. The Red Claws on the other hand, struggled on both ends of the floor. Both teams started to heat up a bit from behind the arc in the final minutes of the first.
Musa led the Nets in first quarter scoring with seven points followed by Creek and Shannon Scott, who had six points each.
For Maine, Dozier and Goodwin led their team with seven points each followed by White III with five points.
After one, the Long Island Nets led the Maine Red Claws 29-23.
The Red Claws picked it up and tied the gave up at 32 with 10:00 left in the half. Despite tying up the game, the Red Claws had trouble defending Long Island’s drivers leading to a deficit for Maine.
Like the first, both teams started to hit from behind the arc midway through the second but the Nets kept their offense inside the arc after a short sequence.
Musa did a good job on both ends of the floor. On the defensive end, he played lockdown defense pressuring his guard to make quick decisions. On the offensive end, he not only scored the ball at an elite level but put his passing on display.
The Nets rookie led the way for Long Island in the first half. He scored 18 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 19 minutes of play. Musa shot 6-of-11 from the field and 3-of-6 from behind the arc in the first half.
Creek maintained his solid play in the first half. The Australian forward recorded 14 points and two rebounds in 16 minutes of play. Creek was very consistent from the field going 6-of-8 not attempting one three.
Scott had a good half for Long Island as well. He went 4-of-5 from the field and 1-of-2 from behind the arc. At the half, Scott recorded nine points, three rebounds, and one assist.
Long Island shot 23-of-43 from the field and 7-of-18 from behind the arc in the first half.
For Maine, Goodwin led the team in first half scoring with 15 points and one rebounds shooting 4-of-9 from the field and 1-of-3 from behind the arc. White III had a good half for the Red Claws scoring 14 points and two rebounds.
The Red Claws shot 20-of-43 in the first half as a team and 8-of-17 from behind the arc.
At the half, Long Island led Maine 60-56.
It did not take long for the Nets to connect in the second half. Off a nice pass from Musa, McLaughlin connected on a smooth and-one-drive. Only one minute later, Murphy connected on his own and-one drive stunning the crowd and leading to the Red Claws calling a quick timeout.
The Red Claws really struggled on the defensive end. In the first two minutes, the Nets went on a 12-1 run to extending their lead and starting to pull away from Maine. McLaughlin did a good job locking down White III forcing him into low percentage shots.
Despite the rough start, the Red Claws climbed back and cut their deficit to single digits in the closing minutes of the third.
Musa had 32 points, five rebounds, and six assists in 26 minutes of play by the end of the quarter. Creek had 18 points, three rebounds, and one assist.
At the end of three, Long Island led Maine by only three, 97-94.
Both teams played good defense to start the fourth quarter. Then, with 6:59 left, the Red Claws called time trailing 103-102.
After a couple bad shot selections and good Red Claw defense, Maine began to turn around the game. With 2:00 left in the game, Maine led Long Island 115-106. The Red Claws pulled away from Long Island and eventually won by a score of 125-114.
The Nets look to bounce back against their Atlantic Division rival, the Westchester Knicks. Friday March 16. Long Island has a two and a half game lead over Lakeland with three games left.