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PINSON HITS GAME WINNER TO SEND LONG ISLAND TO G LEAGUE FINALS

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It came down to the final second of overtime but Theo Pinson’s game winning three sent the Long Island Nets to the NBA G League Final, defeating the Lakeland Magic, at Nassau Coliseum, 108-106. This is the first year the Nets made the G League playoffs.

The Nets will now face the Western Conference champs, the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, in a best-of-3 Finals series starting Sunday night in Long Island. The Vipers, the Rockets affiliate, beat the Santa Cruz Warriors Tuesday.

The Nets two-way guard hit the deep game-winning three pointer with just .4 left in overtime to seal the game for Long Island. Pinson celebrated the game winner with D’Angelo Russell’s ice in my veins celebration. Russell was on the sidelines along with teammates Jared Dudley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Dudley, who called “Theo for the game!” before Pinson took the shot, recorded the moment.

This time, it was the other guys dancing for Theo.

Pinson finished with 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists in the Eastern Conference Finals win. Before he hit the game-winner, he was 1-of-10 from deep. The Nets swingman had set the stage for the Long Island comeback when he threw down a vicious slam midway through the fourth to get the Nassau Colisem crowd to their feet.

Thomas Wimbush, filling in for Mitch Creek now with the TWolves, was critical to the Nets , recording a double-double. The 6’7” SF scored a game-high 28 points, hitting four three’s and grabbing 12 rebounds. After the game, Pinson presented Wimbush with the Eastern Conference championship trophy.

Alan Williams, the Nets two-way center, had another impressive outing recording yet another double-double. Big Sauce recorded 15 points and 20 total rebounds in the win.

Dzanan Musa had another good game recording 17 points, one rebound, and one assist Jordan McLaughlin, who came off the bench, scored 16 points, handed out six assists, and grabbed three rebounds.

With no Mitch Creek for Long Island, who is with the Minnesota Timberwolves on a 10-day contract, Will Weaver started Pinson, Wimbush, Musa Williams and Tahjere McCall.

Both teams started to put points on the board in the opening minutes of the first. The Nets pushed early on the offensive end connecting on drives while the Magic took no time to start shooting from behind the arc.

With 8:04 left in the quarter, Lakeland head coach Stan Heath called a quick timeout with his team down 13-8. Wimbush scored seven of Long Island’s first 13 points. Musa picked up a quick technical foul for excessively hanging on the rim following a dunk with 6:43 remaining in the first.

Then, the Magic began to hit their shots consistently late in the first while the Nets were sloppy with the ball forcing back-to-back turnovers taking a lead. Lakeland ended the first on a 11-2 run. Jefferson led all scorers with 11 first quarter points.

At the end of one, Nets trailed the Magic 34-27.

Long Island started the second quarter strong on both ends of the floor. Weaver called a quick timeout with 9:11 left. Following the timeout, Long Island started to settle and hit their shots after a sloppy ending to the first.

Williams was subbed out with seven minutes remaining. Lakeland took advantage of Williams on the bench by driving the ball and focusing their offense inside the arc. On the other end, the Magic played loose defense on the Nets three point shots. Long Island went 5-for-19 from behind the arc midway through the first half.

The Magic had their biggest lead of the first half with 11 points. Lakeland capitalized off of Long Island’s sloppy ball play on the offensive end. The Nets managed to cut their deficit to only six points following a Musa three and a long two-pointer by Pinson, a precursor to the game-winner just before the halftime buzzer.

York and Jefferson had great halfs for the Magic recording 30 of the teams 56 first half points. Wimbush and Musa scored 24 of Long Island’s 50 first half points.

The Nets did not shoot well in the first half. They went 21-55 from the field (38%) and a rough 6-20 from behind the arc (30%).

At the half, Lakeland led the Nets 56-50.

Lakeland continued to control both ends of the floor throughout the third quarter. The Magic began to connect from behind the arc consistently. The Nets had trouble scoring on Lakeland’s tight man defense. At one point, the Magic lead ballooned to 14.

The Nets managed to cut into the deficit in the closing minutes of the third. At the end of three, Long Island trailed 83-77.

The fourth quarter was nothing but Long Island Nets. After a slow fourth quarter start in the opening minutes, Long Island had everything working for them. With 6:27 left in the fourth, the Nets took the lead, 91-90.

After a fourth quarter comeback to take the lead, Dudley, D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were hyped up.

The Nets had a five-point lead heading into the final two minutes of the fourth. With just 22 seconds left, Troy Caupain hit a game-tying three. The Nets wound down the rest of the clock and Williams attempted a fade-away jumper to win it but came up short. Following the shot, Williams and the Nets argued for a goal tend due to Jefferson tipping the ball while it was falling in front of the rim. No luck. The game would go into overtime tied up at 102.

In the closing minute of overtime, Caupain gave his team a two point lead off a silky jump shot. Williams was fouled and hit one free throw to cut their deficit to one point. But With .4 left on the clock, Pinson hit a game-winning three pointer and that was that.

For Lakeland, they had four players score 20 or more points in the loss. Gabe York, who won the NBA G League Jason Collier Sportsmanship Award, recorded a team-high 24 points, five rebounds, and three assists.

B.J. Johnson, who flew back to play in tonight’s game after signing a 10-day deal with the Sacramento Kings, recorded a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds.

Amile Jefferson had an expected great game for Lakeland recording 20 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists followed by Caupain with 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.