Playing at home in an arena lit in Laker blue-and-gold, the Long Island Nets fell to the Grand Rapids Drive, 135-117 Monday night. With the loss, the Nets dropped their second straight home game, falling to 5-11 at Nassau Coliseum and 10-18 on the season.
Like their NBA parent clubs, the two teams stood for a moment of silence and then took back-to-back 24-second violations to start the game, all part of the NBA’s celebration of Kobe Bryant’s life.
Despite the loss, six Nets finished in double-figures and CJ Massinburg returned for Long Island after missing more than a month due to a right knee injury. In his return, Massinburg logged seven minutes finishing with three points, four rebounds, and two assists.
Jeremiah Martin, the Nets new two-way, had another impressive and consistent outing for the Nets, finishing with 25 points, one rebound, two assists, and two steals in 27 minutes off the bench. The 23-year-old 6’4” combo guard finished the loss shooting 10-of-15 overall and 1-of-3 from deep.
“They outplayed us,” Martin said following the loss. “They came out strong and were the team that was most hungry today.”
Dzanan Musa, who played in his first game at Nassau since his rookie season, had a good game finishing with 18 points, one rebound, one assist, and two steals in 22 minutes of play as a starter. Musa shot 6-of-11 overall and 1-of-2 from deep.
Following the loss, Musa hinted at why he was assigned to Long Island and how like Kobe, he wants to win ... and take things one day and one step at a time.
“Nothing. We lost,” Musa said following the loss. “I am just here to help the team win so I failed my mission.”
“Nothing,” Musa repeated. “Like Kobe said take it day-by-day, take it one step at a time and we’ll see.”
The Nets also sent Theo Pinson to Long Island Monday. He finished with 11 points, six assists and five rebounds, hitting 4-of-8 overall, but missing all four of his three’s.
Justin Anderson, who the Nets acquired last week after his 10-day ended, recorded 15 points, six rebounds, two assists, one steal, and one block in the loss. Anderson shot 5-of-13 overall and 3-of-8 from deep.
As a team, the Nets shot 41-of-83 from the field (49 percent) and 12-of-37 from deep (32 percent). Long Island finished with 18 turnovers in the loss, a function perhaps of their constantly changing rotation.
As for the game, Shaun Fein started Pinson, Musa, Anderson, Chris Chiozza and Jonathan Kasibabu. John Egubunu (right ankle soreness) was ruled out but was not wearing a walking boot as he had the past two games.
Long Island began the game playing well on both ends, behind the play of Musa. With 6:21 left in the first, Grand Rapids called timeout, trailing 12-6. Musa scored nine of the Nets 12 points. Following the timeout, the Drive went on an 8-2 scoring run ending their slow scoring start.
As the quarter progressed, the Drive had their shots falling and played well on the defensive end. At the end of one, the Nets trailed the Drive 30-20.
Musa led the Nets in first quarter scoring with nine points in six minutes of play. The Nets assignee shot 3-of-3 overall and 1-of-1 from deep in the first.
As a team, the Nets shot 6-of-17 overall (35 percent) and 4-of-13 from deep (30 percent) in the first. Long Island coughed up seven first quarter turnovers.
Both teams began the second playing well offensively. The difference maker early was the Drive began the second quarter continuing to hit their shots from deep. With 6:47 left, Fein called a timeout with his team trailing 45-30.
With 3:27 left, Pinson went up to block Adam Woodbury and was called for a foul. Following the call, Pinson was in disbelief about the ruling and after expressing his thoughts in a demonstrative way, he was charged with a technical.
As the quarter progressed, frustration started to build for the Nets, spurred in part by some questionable calls. At the end of the first half, the Nets trailed 69-48 after the Drive outscored them, 39-28, in the second.
Anderson led the Nets in scoring with 15 points, 10 in the second, heading into the locker room. In addition to his 15 points at the half, Anderson recorded five rebounds, one assist, one block, and one steal in 16 first half minutes. He shot 5-of-11 overall and 3-of-7 from deep.
As a team, the Nets finished the first half shooting 18-of-39 (46 percent) overall and 7-of-21 from deep (33 percent). Long Island tallied five second quarter turnovers, totaling 12 at the end of the half.
The Drive opened the third quarter on a 10-4 scoring run to add on to their lengthy lead. With 8:59 left in the third, Musa picked up his fourth foul and following the play, picked up a technical foul.
As the third quarter progressed, the Drive continued to hold their strong lead. In addition to their consistent play on the offensive play, Grand Rapids played well on the defensive end. Long Island struggled to find a rhythm in the third but played hard on both ends throughout the quarter.
At the end of three, the Nets trailed 105-69.
As a team, the Nets ended the third shooting 23-of-58 overall (39 percent) and 8-of-29 from deep (27 percent). Long Island ended the third with 16 turnovers.
After a stagnant beginning to the fourth quarter, the Nets played with high energy in the fourth quarter with hopes of eliminating the Drive’s big lead. Midway through the fourth, the Nets controlled the tempo and began to cut their deficit but as the game progressed, Grand Rapids lead was too much to overcome.
The Nets are back in action when they travel to the Barclays Center to host Capital City Go-Go, the Washington Wizards G League affiliate, on Wednesday at 11 a.m. It’s Long Island’s only Brooklyn game this season and Martin’s first game on an NBA court.
“I was always a kid dreaming of playing on an NBA court and with an NBA court and with an organization which have the luxury of doing. Just going out, playing with may Long Island Nets teammates, going out and playing on the Barclays Center court is going to be fun.”
After Wednesday, Long Island will be on the road from February 1 till February 21 for a six game road trip.