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Long Island clinches division and first round playoff bye beating Westchester, 110-102

Long Island Nets

The Long Island Nets clinched the G League Atlantic Division defeating their rival, the Westchester Knicks, 110-102, at Nassau Coliseum. The Nets will now have a first-round bye in the G League playoffs which begin on March 26.

The Nets, despite losing their 10-game win streak Friday, are still riding a nine-game home win streak at home. The Nets improve to 31-16 on the season, easily their best record ever.

With two-way players Theo Pinson and Alan Williams on the road with Brooklyn, Dzanan Musa stepped up once again for the Nets, scoring a team-high 24 points on 8-of-23 shooting to go along with seven assists and six rebounds. Musa played a team-high 36 minutes in the win.

Mitch Creek had a big game as well for Long Island. The Australian forward recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in 20 minutes of action.

Tahjere McCall scored 14 points, three assists, and two rebounds followed by newcomer Josh Newkirk, who finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and six assists in the win.

Will Davis, another newcomer, recorded two highlight reel blocks in the win while finishing with 13 points, six rebounds, and three blocks.

Nuni Omot saw 15 minutes of action for Long Island scoring 10 points, three rebounds, and one assist. The former Baylor Bear was also wearing Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s shoes in the win.

For the Westchester Knicks, they have already clinched a playoff berth and could be a possible opponent for the Nets in the second round of the playoffs based on seeding.

Billy Garrett led the team scoring a game-high 30 points to go along with four rebounds and four assists in the loss.

Jameel Warney had a solid game for the Knicks recording a double-double with 16 points and 19 rebounds against the Big Sauce-less Nets. Zak Irvin had a quiet game for the Knicks scoring 14 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

Knicks two-way forward Isaiah Hicks, who was a teammate of Pinson’s in 2017 when their UNC Tarheels won the National Championship, had a quiet game as well scoring only eight points.

With no Pinson or Williams for the Nets, Will Weaver started Creek, McCall, Kamari Murphy, Musa, and Newkirk. Jordan McLaughlin and Shannon Scott did not play for Long Island.

Creek got the ball rolling for the Nets connecting on an and-one drive 30 seconds into the game.

Westchester took no time to attack the paint. With no Williams, the Knicks pushed their offense down low connecting. Despite the Knicks finishing down low, the Nets shaped their offense in the mid-range.

Both teams played well on both ends keeping the score close. The Nets played good man-to-man defense locking down the Knicks. Despite the man defense, the Knicks continued their push to the paint scoring on drives and cutters.

McCall hit a corner three at the buzzer to give the Nets a three point led heading into the second, 31-28.

Musa led the way for the Nets in scoring with 10 points followed by McCall with six points. Nuni Omot saw good minutes in the first recording five points followed by Newkirk with four points.

For the Knicks, Irvin led the team with eight points in the first followed by Garrett, who also recorded eight points.

Just like the first, Creek connected on an and-one drive in the opening possession for the Nets. On the next possession, McCall found a trailing Creek for a nifty cut pass and the finish resulting in the Knicks to call an early second quarter timeout.

The Nets came out ready to pile on their lead. After a strong drive up Newkirk putting the Nets up 45-30, the Knicks called another early second quarter timeout with nine minutes to go.

The rest of the second quarter was all Nets. Long Island kept the same intensity and did a great job connecting on transition drives. On the defensive end, their tight man defense frustrated their Atlantic Division rival not giving them any easy points.

At the end of the first half, the Nets led the Knicks by 19 with a score of 66-47.

Musa continued his aggressive play scoring 16 first half points to go along with three rebounds and two assists in 20 minutes. His 20 minutes played led the Nets in first half minutes.

Creek had a strong first half, especially his confidence shooting the first half, scored 14 points, four rebounds, and one assist. Omot was the Nets third leading scorer at the half, recorded 10 points and one rebound.

Long Island shot 26-of-50 from the field (52%), 6-of-15 from behind the arc (40%), and 8-of-11 from the foul line.

For Westchester, Garrett continued his good play recording 13 points, two rebounds, and one assist followed by Irvin, who went scoreless in the second but had eight points at half.

Westchester shot 17-of-48 from the field (35%), a very rough 1-of-13 from behind the arc (8%), and 12-of-16 from the foul line (75%).

The Knicks started the third on a 5-to-2 scoring run but could not connect on the defensive end. The Nets were dominate when pushing the ball down low or kicking it to cutters.

Long Island continued their strong defense but the Knicks began to come back late. In the final minute of the third, Westchester cut their deficit to single digits. The Knicks went on a 14-5 run to end the third outscoring Long Island 27-17 in the third quarter.

At the end of three, Nets led the Knicks 83-74.

The Nets had four players in double figures heading into the fourth. Musa continued to play good scoring 19 points followed by Creek, who had 18 heading into the fourth.

McCall and Omot had great quarters on both ends of the floor recording 10 points.

For Westchester, Garrett was their main offensive weapon in the third recording 20 points heading into the fourth. Irvin and Warney both recorded 10 points each entering the fourth.

The Nets had good control of the fourth. With 2:58 left in the game, and Long Island up 105-93, Paul Watson had a hard foul on Musa. Weaver and Musa were not pleased with the foul leading to the officials to send both teams to their benches and take a look on the monitor.

After a two minute review, the call was upgraded to a flagrant one foul. Musa hit one out of the two free throws.

After a small comeback for the Knicks, it just wasn’t enough to win it. With the win, Long Island have clinched the Atlantic Division awarding them a first round bye in the upcoming G League Playoffs.

The Nets look to finish the season strong as they face the Delaware Blue Coats on March 22 at the 76ers Fieldhouse in Wilmington, Delaware.