After battling back in the fourth quarter, the Long Island Nets fell short Friday, losing to the Maine Red Claws, 118-114 at Nassau Coliseum. The loss snaps Long Island’s three-game home winning streak. The Nets falls to 5-10 at home and 10-17 on the season.
Despite the loss, five Nets finished with double-figures in the loss. Justin Anderson, acquired in a trade three days ago following the expiration of his 10-day with Brooklyn, impressed, scoring a game-high 33 points to go along with eight rebounds, three assists, and two steals in 34 minutes of play off the bench. Anderson finished his big night shooting 13-of-17 overall and 4-of-8 from deep.
“It was good,” said Anderson. “We came up short. Wish we got the last rebound somehow but I think we played very well as a team collectively. We got off to a slow start.”
“He was great,” Long Island coach Shaun Fein said. “Obviously driving to the basket, hit some three’s for us. He played a lot of the 5 for us tonight. [Jonathan] Kasibabu had a bit of a back problem. It locked up on him so we didn’t want him going back out there and him hurting it a little more. Justin did a good job defensively. Still gotta learn some of the stuff we are doing. Pick-and-roll, especially at the 5 since he is not used to doing it so we’ll get to practice on Sunday and address that stuff.”
The 6’6” Anderson had averaged better than 20 points a game with the Raptors G League before he was called up by the Nets on January 7. He saw minimal time with Brooklyn. After they released him from his 10-day, the Nets engaged in trade talks with Toronto to get him back.
Chris Chiozza, one of the Nets new two-ways, had a solid performance as well, finishing with 25 points, eight rebounds, and six assists in 33 minutes of play. Chiozza shot 11-of-19 from the field and 3-of-8 from deep in the loss. In the last three games, the 5’11” point guard has scored 26, 18 and 25.
“I had a better game scoring tonight,” Chiozza said following the loss. “Just coming out, being aggressive. I had a lot of open shots and layups and took them. Being aggressive.”
Theo Pinson scored 16 points, grabbed six rebounds, and handed out five assists in 36 minutes of play. Deng Adel continued his consistent scoring, finishing with 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists in 28 minutes of play. He also added a signature highlight dunk off an alley-oop from Brooklyn’s second round pick, Jaylen Hands.
Hands finished with 11 points, one rebound and that assist, shooting 5-of-7 in 14 minutes.
As a team, the Nets finished the loss shooting 46-of-93 overall (49 percent) and 12-of-37 from deep (32 percent). Despite the good shooting, the Nets finished with 18 turnovers in the loss, five by Pinson and four each by Hands and Chiozza
Fein and the Nets coaching staff started Chiozza, Pinson, Adel, CJ Williams and Kasibabu.
The Red Claws opened the game on a 7-0 scoring run through the first two minutes of play. As the first quarter progressed, Maine began to find an offensive rhythm, focusing their offense around the rim. With 5:37 left in the first, Fein called his first timeout with his team down 16-7.
With 4:26 remaining in the first, Pinson was subbed out and headed to the Nets locker room accompanied by Jana Austin, Long Island’s athletic trainer. Pinson returned to the Nets bench two minutes later.
The Nets ended the first quarter roughly. The Red Claws closed out the quarter on a 7-0 run, extending their lead to 16.
At the end of the first, Long Island trailed Maine 33-17.
As a team, the Nets did not shoot the ball well in the first 12 minutes of play. Long Island ended the first shooting 7-of-24 overall (29 percent) and 3-of-10 from deep (30 percent). In addition to their rough shooting, the Nets recorded six turnovers.
Chiozza led the Nets in first quarter scoring with six points and two rebounds in 10 minutes of play followed by Anderson with five points, two rebounds, and two assists in seven minutes of play.
The Nets started the second quarter on a strong note, going on an early 9-2 scoring run. Long Island continued to score consistently, attacking the rim and focusing on mid-range scoring. Long Island played well on the defensive end throughout the quarter, playing tight defense but had some trouble switching off screens. The Red Claws turned it on late, ending the half with a 8-0 scoring run.
At the end of the first half, the Nets trailed Maine 52-42.
As a team, the Nets ended the half shooting 17-of-46 overall (37 percent) and 5-of-19 from deep (26 percent). Like the first quarter, the Nets recorded six turnovers in the second quarter, ending the half with 12 total turnovers.
Anderson led the Nets in first half scoring, tallying seven points in the second and totaling 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists in 17 minutes of play. Hands led the Nets in second quarter scoring, recording nine points in eight minutes of play.
Both teams began the second half lighting it up from deep. Following back to back three’s by Maine, Fein called his first timeout of the second half with 10:16 remaining and his team down by 11. Following the timeout, the Nets pulled together a 9-4 run, forcing the Red Claws to call a timeout with 8:20 remaining holding a four point lead.
With 6:20 remaining in the third, Justin Bibbs suffered an apparent left leg injury following a breakaway layup and being fouled by Pinson. Bibbs headed to the Red Claws locker room with the assistance of two teammates putting little to no pressure on his left leg. The officials reviewed the play and ruled the play as a common foul on Pinson.
The Nets continied to play well on both ends of the floor in the third, outscoring the Red Claws 36-24 in the quarter.
At the end of three, the Nets led the Red Claws 78-76.
As a team, the Nets entered the final 12 minutes of play shooting 33-of-70 overall (47 percent) and 8-of-26 from deep (30 percent). On top of their well rounded third quarter play, Long Island recorded only three turnovers in the third.
Both teams began the final 12 minutes of play playing well on offense and shaky on the defensive end. As the game tempo slowed down and the quarter progressed, both teams exchanged baskets throughout the quarter and the game came down to the final minute.
The Red Claws hit a layup with 1:12 remaining to put them up by two and followed up with a three pointer by Kaiser Gates putting them up by four with 46 seconds left. Maine went on to hit the free throws in the closing seconds of the game and leaving Uniondale with the win.
Anderson also suggested that his return to the Nets organization via a trade for Henry Ellenson was not a surprise. He knew the Nets liked his game.
“We kind of knew that it was an opportunity,” Anderson said. “They were pleased with my time up there even though they said I didn’t get much of an opportunity. They were pleased with my work and my workouts, So they made a trade with Toronto to try to get me here and it worked out.”
Asked about his goal for the rest of the season, Anderson said, “to get back to the NBA.”
The Nets look to bounce back and keep their new found winning alive when they host the Grand Rapids Drive, the Pistons affiliate, on Monday at the Coliseum.