The G League championship will all come down to one game, Friday night, in Stony Brook.
The Long Island Nets fall to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, 127-116, at the Berg Ogden Arena in Texas Tuesday, forcing a decisive Game 3. The game will be played at the Island Federal Credit Union Arena in Stony Brook, New York.
Long Island trailed throughout the second half to the Vipers but did make a fourth quarter comeback cutting the Vipers lead to only three points with seven minutes left but Rio Grande Valley pulled away to secure the Game 2 win and keep their title hopes alive.
Long Island had five players in double-figures. Nets two-way guard Theo Pinson led the way recording a double-double in the Game 2 loss with 32 points and 11 rebounds in 38 minutes.
Thomas Wimbush, who’s played great since Mitch Creek departed for Minnesota on a 10-day contract, had another impressive outing with 21 points, five rebounds, and two assists in 35 minutes.
Nets two-way center, Alan Williams, recorded his usual double-double performance with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Dzanan Musa scored 13 points, six rebounds, and two assists in the loss.
But the Vipers big man, Isaiah Hartenstein, dominated the game, shooting nearly perfect from behind the arc going 8-of-9 from three. The Vipers center finished with a game-high 33 points and 13 rebounds to lead his team to a decisive Game 3.
Dakarai Tucker had a good bounce-back game recording 23 points, eight rebounds, and five assists for the Vipers. Tucker shot 4-of-5 from behind the arc.
Michael Frazer, who signed a contract with the Houston Rockets prior to the G League Finals, had 19 points, four rebounds, and four assists in the win. And Son of Glove, Gary Payton II, had a good outing for RGV, recording 18 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
Will Weaver started Pinson, Musa, McCall, Wimbush, and Williams for Game 2.
The Nets played solid defense early, especially executing help defense down low and forcing traps. Then, in the closing minutes of the quarter, the Vipers began to catch fire from behind the arc causing Weaver to call a timeout with 2:00 left. Long Island ended the first on a 6-0 scoring run. At the end of one, Long Island and Rio Grande Valley were tied up at 27.
Pinson led the way for Long Island with seven first quarter points, two rebounds, and one assist followed by newcomer Josh Newkirk, who recorded five points off the bench.
For the Vipers, Payton II had a strong first quarter scoring eight points including a strong slam hyping up the Berg Ogden Arena. Johnson had a good first quarter as well scoring eight points and playing strong defense.
The Vipers began to heat up in the second quarter, especially from behind the arc. Hartenstein went 3-for-3 on three’s but the Nets did not let the Vipers gain a big lead, staying close. With 7:21 left in the second, McCall fouled Hartenstein, who was going up to score off an offensive rebound. The officials reviewed the play to and upgraded the foul to a flagrant one. Hartenstein connected on both free throws and the Vipers regained possession.
With 2:00 minutes left in the first half, the Vipers began to grow a lead they would basically keep the rest of the game. Rio Grande Valley finished the half on a Diamond Stone layup buzzer beater and a 12-4 scoring run going into the locker room with a 64-56 lead. There were a total of 17 lead changes in the first half.
The Nets shot 21-of-45 from the field (47%) in the first half. Long Island were not so consistent from three shooting 5-of-14 from three (36%) and 9-of-12 from the foul line (75%).
The Nets started to gain some momentum halfway through the third quarter on the defensive end but had trouble finishing on the offensive. With 3:48 left in the third, Williams picked up his third foul putting the Vipers in the bonus. Hartenstein continued to pound the Nets from behind the arc and down low. The Vipers began to pull away in the final minutes of the third, leading by 13 points. With 7.1 seconds left in the third, Payton II picked up a technical foul.
At the end of the third, the Vipers led the Nets 94-86 after both teams scored 30 points in the third.
After the Vipers started the fourth quarter red hot, the Nets pulled together a 7-0 scoring run to cut their deficit to only three points with 7:40 left in the game. The game came down to the final minutes. Tempers started to flare in the final minute of the game leading to Williams picking up his first technical foul for making an inappropriate gesture.
Vipers held off the Nets, 125-116, to force a decisive Game 3 back in Island Federal Credit Union Arena in Stony Brook, NY. Game 3 will be played at 8pm on Friday, April 12.