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Long Island Nets collapse late, losing to Fort Wayne Mad Ants, 100-92

The Long Island Nets collapsed late in the fourth quarter, losing to the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, the Indiana Pacers G League affiliate, 100-92. With the loss, Long Island fall to 7-16 on the season, dropping their ninth loss at the Coliseum.

Despite the loss, the Nets had a balanced scoring attack, finishing with six players in double-figures. To Long Island Nets head coach Shaun Fein, that was a big positive ... despite the losing.

“That’s the type of team we are here in Long Island,” Fein said. “We don’t rely on one guy to score 25 or 30 points. We share the ball, we are moving the ball, and playing as a team.”

Chris Chiozza, the Nets new two-way, had a good game scoring 14 points, four assists, four steals, and three rebounds in 30 minutes of play. The Nets point guard shot 6-of-11 overall and 1-of-5 from deep in the loss.

The Nets two-way made his Long Island Nets debut back on January 8 and is still adjusting to his teammates and the system. Chiozza also pinpointed how carelessness played a major factor in the loss.

“Firstly, we could have done a better job of taking care of the ball,” Chiozza said following the loss. “Still trying to learn everybody’s game and know where they are going to be in certain spots.”

Fein believes Chiozza plays a little too unselfish, looking to make the extra pass too often rather than scoring the ball. To Fein, he is a true point guard still learning this teammates and players but wants his two-way point guard to incorporate scoring into his game more.

“I think he’s still getting to know his teammates and our system,” Fein said. “He’s a true point guard so he’s always looking to make the next pass.”

“I talked to him after the game and during the week about looking for his shot and look to score. Told him it’s almost hurting us that you’re not looking to score. He will be fine. He is a good player. He understands the game.”

Devin Cannady had a solid game as well, recording 14 points, two assists, and three rebounds in 28 minutes of play. The sharpshooter put his shooting on display, finishing the game 5-of-14 from the field and 4-of-10 from deep in the loss.

Starting next game, Long Island will have another scoring guard when Jeremiah Martin, signed Wednesday night to a two-way deal, joins the club. Martin had been averaging 18.5 points for the Sioux City Skyliners,

John Egbunu had a quiet yet productive game for Long Island off the bench. The former Florida Gator finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, and two assists. Egbunu shot 6-of-10 overall in 22 minutes of play.

Nic Claxton, who was on G League assignment from Brooklyn, had a quiet game, finishing the game with 11 points, three rebounds, one assist, one block, and one turnover in 12 minutes of play. The Nets rookie shot 5-of-9 overall and went 0-of-2 from deep in the loss. Jaylen Hands, however, had only two points off the bench, shooting 0-of-6 from three, but racking up five assists and two turnovers in 17 minutes.

Following the game, Fein gave the Nets second round pick high praise. He believes he will become a “really, really, really good NBA player” but needs to continue to work on certain areas of his game.

“He is super talented,” Fein said. “I think on both ends of the floor. His defensive size is very good, his length, and his activity on the defensive side helps us.”

“Offensively, he is improving on his outside shooting a little bit. He has a great touch around the rim. Once he gets a little stronger, gets a little more mature, and grows into his body, I see him being a really really good NBA player.”

With DeAndre Jordan suffering a dislocated right middle finger, look for Claxton to return to Brooklyn and get some minutes if Jordan’s injury lingers.

The Nets brought both Claxton and John Egbunu, their 6’11” big off the bench. Egbunu had another solid game, falling two rebounds short of another double-double.

As a team, turnovers hurt the Nets, especially in the second half. Long Island coughed up a total of 22 turnovers in the loss. In addition to their heavy turnover amount, the Nets did not shoot well from three, going 11-of-38 from deep and 34-of-85 from the field.

”I thought we missed a lot of open looks throughout the game,” Shaun Fein said following the loss.

Fein went small early, starting Chiozza, Cannady, Yacoubou, CJ Williams, and Jonathan Kasibabu. CJ Massinburg, who is dealing with a lower leg injury, did not play.

The story of the first quarter was three-point shooting and technical fouls. The Nets did a good job on off-ball screens for three-point shooters. Long Island let the three’s fly in the opening minutes with Cannady hitting two quick three’s on four attempts. With 7:51 left in the first, the Nets called a timeout trailing 14-11.

With 4:59 left in the first, Claxton picked up a technical foul following a thunderous one handed slam for hanging on the rim. A few plays later, the officials handed Stephan Hicks a technical, following a negative exchange with an official. Both teams were handed delay of game warnings during the first as well.

At the end of one, the Nets trailed 32-31.

Williams and Cannady led the team in first quarter scoring, tallying eight points each on a combined 5-of-10 shooting overall. As a team, the Nets shot 10-of-26 (38 percent) from the field and 4-of-13 (31 percent) from deep. Long Island went a perfect 4-of-4 from the charity strike and recorded only three first quarter turnovers.

Both teams started the second quarter playing well on both ends of the floor. The Nets played tight defense in the early half, leading to two steals and the team capitalized. As the second quarter progressed, the Mad Ants began to find an offensive rhythm. Although Fort Wayne started to find a groove, the Nets continued to play well on both ends, capping the first half on a 8-3 scoring run.

At the end of the first half, Fort Wayne led Long Island 56-54.

Chiozza had a good first half, scoring 10 second quarter points, ending the half with a team-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the field and 1-of-3 from deep. Claxton played a total of 10 first half minutes, scoring eight points, three rebounds, one assist, and one block. The Nets rookie shot 4-of-7 overall and 0-of-1 from three.

Fein and the Nets coaching staff started Chiozza, Cannady, Sanogo, Williams, and Egbunu to open the second half. Both teams struggled to score the ball early, combining for only six points in the first six minutes of play.

The Nets began to gain momentum on both ends of the floor at the five minute mark. Long Island did a good job getting to the charity strike and finding the open man from deep. Fort Wayne continued their attack inside the three-point arc but struggled to find consistency scoring the ball. Turnovers played a negative role in the third for Long Island. The Nets coughed up eight turnovers in the third, tallying a total of 15 heading into the final 12 minutes of play.

At the end of the third, Long Island led Fort Wayne 74-72.

As a team, the Nets shot 27-of-67 (40 percent) from the field and a rough 9-of-30 from deep (30 percent).

The fourth quarter remained stagnant with both teams exchanging baskets. The Mad Ants began to find a rhythm on the offensive end, going on a 10-0 scoring run, leading to Fein calling a timeout with 4:56 left in the game with his team down 90-82. With 4:20 left in the game, Sanogo committed an off ball foul which was reviewed by the officials. Following the review, the foul was upgraded to a flagrant one.

The Mad Ants pulled away in the closing minutes of the game, handing Long Island their 16th loss of the season and their 9th loss at Nassau Coliseum.

The Nets look to bounce back when they face the Boston Celtics G League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, Friday January 17 at Nassau Coliseum.