The Long Island Nets keep their playoff hopes alive, defeating the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets G League affiliate, in blowout fashion, 123-84. The Nets improve to 16-20 on the season and 7-11 at Nassau Coliseum.
“It was one of the best games we played,” Shaun Fein said following the win. “I really enjoyed watching us play tonight.”
Of course, Fein had the benefit of the Nets young talent. Three Brooklyn players and one of the team’s two two-ways were in Uniondale, perhaps the most ever, certainly the most this season.
Nicolas Claxton, who is on assignment from the Nets, continued to play at a high level with the Nets G League affiliate, scoring 19 points and snagging seven rebounds in 21 minutes off the bench in the win. The rookie shot 8-of-9 overall and went 1-of-2 from deep. He finished a +34.
Claxton will likely be with Long Island for Thursday’s home game against the Erie Bayhawks as the Nets try to give him playing time rather than having him sit at the end of the bench.
Dzanan Musa, who is also on assignment from Brooklyn, played well in the win, tallying 17 points, nine rebounds, and four assists in 29 minutes of play as a starter. Musa shot 7-of-12 from the field and went 1-of-2 from deep.
Justin Anderson, who was coming off a 17 point performance against Puerto Rico for Team USA Sunday, had another impressive game for Long Island. Anderson finished with a near triple-double of 17 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds on 6-of-10 shooting overall and went 3-of-6 from deep in a team-high 30 minutes of play.
“Justin Anderson is really really good,” Fein said. “He only took 10 shots but had 17 points, 10 assists, and came close to a triple double being three rebounds away. He was really efficient. I think early on he really set the momentum with that extra pass instead of taking that open shot.”
Fein said he told Anderson that his near triple-double was the best performance he had as a Long Island Net.
“I told him tonight was the best game he played with us,” Fein said. “I know he had 50 against OKC but I think he played better tonight.”
Rodions Kurucs had a good game, finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, and one assist before catching his sixth foul in the closing minutes of the game. Kurucs played a total of 19 minutes as a starter, shooting 5-of-9 overall and going 4-of-8 from deep.
The big Latvian shed some blood, too. At the 8:33 mark in the first, Kurucs got a shot to the face and headed back to the locker room with Nets trainer, Jana Austin. The injury was minor and the Nets assignee returned to the court in the closing minutes of the first and played till he fouled out.
Overall, seven Nets finished in double figures.
Fein started two-way Jeremiah Martin, Musa, Kurucs, Anderson, and Jonathan Kasibabu. Deng Adel (right wrist soreness) and John Egbunu (right ankle soreness) did not play. Chris Chiozza was with the Brooklyn Nets.
After both teams exchanged baskets throughout the first and struggling to find a consistent rhythm offensively, the Nets played well on both ends throughout the second.
Long Island played more aggressively on the defensive end, restricting cutters and space under the basket. The Nets forced the Swarm into three second quarter turnovers, which translated to only two points. Their strong second quarter included an 8-0 run in the closing minutes of the first half.
At the half, Long Island led Greensboro 65-48.
Anderson provided a huge boost offensively for Long Island, closing out the first half with a team-high 13 points, five assists, and three rebounds in 18 minutes of play. He shot 5-of-5 overall and went 3-of-3 from deep in the first half.
The Nets continued their offensive assault throughout the third quarter. Long Island played with visibly more energy while the Swarm struggled to find a bucket in the closing minutes. In addition to the Swarm struggling to find any rhythm, the Nets closed out the third on a 14-2 scoring run, heading into the final 12 minutes of play with a 98-64 lead. Long Island outscored Greensboro 33-16 in the third.
Long Island did not let off the gas pedal in the fourth quarter. The Nets continued to play hard on both ends of the floor, ending the final 12 minutes of play outscoring the Swarm 25-20, to complete the win.
The Nets return back to action Thursday when they host the Erie Bayhawks on Thursday, followed by the Raptors 905 on Sunday afternoon.