The reinforcements have arrived.
The Long Island Nets defeated the Greensboro Swarm, 119-109, snapping their four-game losing streak but the story of the game was the play of the Nets two second-round picks. Nic Claxton and Jaylen Hands, who combined for 36 points off the bench in the win.
The win marked the Nets first win of 2020 and their first win since Dec. 27th. For the Swarm, the Hornets affiliate, it was their 12th straight loss. Their last win was more than a month ago, on December 7.
Claxton, who last played for Long Island on December 9, impressed in the win. The former Georgia Bulldog, taken at No. 31, recorded a double-double with a team-high 20 points and 10 rebounds to go along with one block, one assist, and one steal in 22 minutes of play. Claxton played a total of 22 minutes off the bench and shot 2-of-2 from deep and 7-of-10 overall in the win.
Hands also played big. The 56th pick in the Draft finished with 16 points, six assists, four rebounds, and only one turnover in 22 minutes of play. He shot 2-of-5 from deep and 5-of-9 overall in the win. In addition to his offensive performance, Hands’ impact was felt most on the defensive end. The former UCLA Bruin had five steals in the win.
Hands lost his starting role two games back to the Nets new two-way, Chris Chiozza. The 5’11” pass-first point guard finished with nine points, eight assists and four steals but shot only 3-of-13.
Ismael Sanogo, the only returning player from Long Island’s 2018-19 Eastern Conference champs, scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds. The former Seton Hall Pirate shot 2-of-2 from deep and 6-of-8 overall in the win.
As a team, the Nets came up with a solid shooting performance. The team shot 18-of-43 (42 percent) from deep and 39-of-81 overall in the win. Long Island shot 14-of-17 (82 percent) from the free throw line.
Shaun Fein started Chiozza, Devin Cannady, Ash Yacoubou, CJ Williams, and Jonathan Kasibabu. Deng Adel, who has been dealing with a sore right Achilles, returned for Long Island after missing close to a month. John Egbunu, who’s been giving the Nets good minutes at the 5, did not play in Saturday’s win because of illness.
The Nets had a rough first quarter. The Swarm opened the game on a 10-0 run, leaving the Nets scoreless for the opening three minutes of play. With 8:02, Claxton checked in for Long Island and scoring off a layup the following play. Still, the onslaught continued with Greensboro going up 20-4.
The Nets offense began to start clicking in the closing minutes of the first. Despite clicking late, the Nets struggled to take care of the ball throughout the first, coughing up seven turnovers.
At the end of the first, the Nets trailed 40-26, shooting 8-of-18 overall and 5-of-12 from deep in the first. Long Island’s biggest deficit was 18 points.
The Nets began the second quarter with a 8-0 run. Long Island played with more energy on both ends of the floor, especially the defensive end in the second. The offense began to flow midway through the first and with 2:23 left in the second, the Nets took their first lead of the game, 53-52, following a transition bucket by Sanogo. The lead was short-lived but the Nets ended the second quarter down by only two points.
At the end of the first half, the Nets trailed 57-55.
Long Island outscored Greensboro 29-17 in the second quarter. Claxton started getting touches in the second quarter, ending the first half with 10 points, seven rebounds, and one assist in 11 minutes of play. The Nets rookie shot 3-of-6 from the field in the half.
Sanogo impressed in the first half, leading the Nets with 11 points, two rebounds, and one assist in 13 minutes of play. The former Seton Hall Pirate shot 4-of-4 overall and 2-of-2 from deep in the first half. c
Three other Nets were in double figures: Cannady finished with 13, Williams 14 and Yacoubou 12.
As a team, the Nets shot well in the first half, going 18-of-41 from the field and 6-of-18 from deep. Despite shooting well and playing with more energy on the defensive end, Long Island tacked five more turnovers in the second, ending the half with 12 total turnovers.
The Swarm came out of the locker room with more energy on the defensive end, leading to Fein calling a quick timeout with 10:38 left in the third. The game remain stagnant until the closing minutes of the third. The three ball began to fall for Long Island late in the third, boosting the Nets to close the third with a nine point lead.
With three quarters in the books, the Nets led 94-85.
Long Island shot 33-of-67 from the field and 15-of-33 from deep heading into the final 12 minutes of play. The team coughed up only one turnover in the third.
After a stagnant first half of the fourth quarter, both teams were in the bonus with 4:25 left and the Nets up 111-103. The Nets upped their defensive efforts in the closing minutes of the game in addition to being patient and moving the ball on the offensive end. The Nets closed out the game on a 4-0 run, defeating the Swarm, 119-109.
With the win, Long Island improved to 7-15 on the season. The Nets will look to continue their strong play Wednesday, January 15 when they take on the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at the Coliseum.