The Long Island Nets defeated the Maine Red Claws, 111-102 at Nassau Coliseum Saturday, with the Nets’ two new two-ways combining for 43 points. The win marked Long Island’s third home win, bringing them to 3-9 at home and 8-16 on the season.
The Nets took over the game in the fourth quarter, playing very well on both ends. Long Island locked down Carsen Edwards, who finished with 33 points in 40 minutes, and upped the pace, led by Chris Chiozza, their 5’11” point guard. Chiozza, signed by Brooklyn on January 4, had 26 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
“That is how you close out a game in the fourth quarter,” Shaun Fein said following the win. “To our credit, we pushed the pace on them and they got a bit tired. We had an advantage because they played last night but I thought we played better in the fourth quarter.”
The story of the game was the performances by the Nets two-way guards Chris Chiozza and Jeremiah Martin and Deng Adel.
Chiozza played well in the fourth quarter, leading his team when it mattered in the closing minutes to secure the win for Long Island. The Nets two-way shot 4-of-10 from deep and 10-of-20 from deep in the win.
#2WayPlayer Chris @Chiozza11 is fitting in nicely on Long Island— NBA G League (@nbagleague) January 18, 2020
26 PTS | 10 REB | 5 AST | 4 @GatorsMBK ↗️ @LongIslandNets ↔️ @celtics pic.twitter.com/od0uCUrAYv
“We have talked about it in terms of being aggressive on the offensive end and when to pass it,” Fein said. “He is a true point guard that wants to get everybody involved but he has to look for his offense and he did a great job of that tonight. He hit some hard shots for us from three as well as getting to the rim and finishing them. The pace he brings after misses and even after makes goes into something really quick and it was very beneficial for us.”
Martin, who made his Nets debut Friday, scored 17 points, grabbed two rebounds, and distributed three assists in 29 minutes of play. The former First-team All-ACC player shot 6-of-13 overall in the win, 1-of-5 from deep.
“The team did well and we got the win,” Martin said following the win. “First game I felt good. I got the jitters out with a win and we beat a top team in the East so it definitely feels good.”
Adel, who made his first start since Nov. 29, had another good game, finishing the win with 21 points, eight rebounds, and two assists in 20 minutes of play. Adel, who has been on a minutes restrictions since coming back from injury, played very well in his coach’s eyes.
He also had the dunk of the game.
*prints and hangs on fridge* pic.twitter.com/77ONYLN94K— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) January 18, 2020
We recommend watching this several times @Foreverdeng pic.twitter.com/u95h6OQkhP— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) January 18, 2020
“[Deng] was very impressive,” Fein said. “He has been on a minutes restriction since coming back from his injury and he played really well in Greensboro, played very well against Fort Wayne, and again tonight again.
“His activity on both sides of the ball and then being so aggressive getting to the rim, getting fouled, and he even probably had a Sportscenter highlights as well. He ignited the group as well, so having him back definitely helps us.”
Fein started Chiozza, Adel, Devin Cannady, CJ Williams, and Jonathan Kasibabu.
The Red Claws opened the game with a 6-0 scoring run, followed by a 9-0 scoring run by the Nets. With 6:18 remaining, Fall checked into the game and as expected, the Coliseum crowd erupted.
The game remained stagnant for the remained of the first. On the offensive end, the Nets moved the ball well, looking for the open shooter. In addition, the Nets did a good job pushing the pace, especially off the Red Claws turnovers.
At the end of one, the Red Claws led the Nets 28-25.
As a team, Long Island finished the first 12 minutes of play shooting 1-of-7 from deep and 10-of-23 overall. In addition to their off-and-on shooting, the Nets tallied five first quarter turnovers.
The story of the second quarter was the Nets shooting woes, especially from deep. Long Island struggled to score down low due to the presence of 7’6” Tacko Fall. While Fall was on the court, the Nets primarily ran drive-and-kick plays looking to find the open man in three-point territory. Despite the strategy, the Nets shot poorly from deep in the second, going 2-of-12 in the second quarter.
Even with their offensive shooting woes, the Nets played well on the defensive end, especially coming off switches and screens, holding the Red Claws to 21 second quarter points.
At the end of the first half, the Red Claws led the Nets 49-48.
Adel led the Nets in first half scoring, recording nine points to go along with five rebounds and one assist in only nine minutes of play. Egbunu had a good half, scoring eight points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes of play. In the closing minutes of the first half, Egbunu looked to roll an ankle following a defensive play.
As a team, the Nets shot 3-of-19 from deep (16 percent) and 19-of-45 (42 percent) overall. Long Island tallied four turnovers in the second, ending the half with nine total turnovers.
The Nets began to attack the rim and focus their offensive play inside the arc more in the third. With 8:19 left in the third, Kaiser Gates went down in pain, following a blocking foul called against him. Gates was faced down in pain and remained on the ground in serious pain, holding his right knee. The former Xavier star gingerly walked off the court with slight assistance from the Red Claw’s trainer and headed to the locker room.
Long Island struggled to find a solution to guard Edwards. The former Purdue star continued his relentless shooting assault on the Nets. After hitting back-to-back threes, Fein called a timeout with 2:34 remaining in the third with his team trailing 77-71. The Nets ended the quarter on a strong note cutting the deficit to only five points.
At the end of the third, the Nets trailed 83-78.
As a team, the Nets did not improve their three-point shooting in the third. Long Island went 3-of-19 from deep (16 percent) but shot 19-of-45 overall (42 percent). The Nets did a good job securing the ball, recording not one turnover in the third.
The Nets started the final 12 minutes of play on a strong note. Long Island played tight defense, deflecting passes, and limiting the ball moving inside the paint. The Nets went on a 9-0 scoring run, taking the lead off a vicious Adel slam in transition and leading to a Red Claws timeout with 8:52 remaining.
The Nets took over in midway through the fourth, going on a 11-2 scoring run, extending their lead to nine points with 2:43 left in the game. Chiozza was the emphasis behind the Nets scoring run, hitting big shots from deep and dishing to open shooters. With 1:39 left, Fein called a timeout with his team leading 103-98. The Nets went on to hold their lead and pick up their third win at home, improving to 8-16 on the season.
Jaylen Hands (back soreness) was given the night off.
The Nets look to add another home win when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers G League affiliate, the Canton Charge on Monday Jan. 20.