The Long Island Nets four game winning streak, which included three on the road, came to an end Sunday as the Sioux Falls Skyforce, the Heats G League affiliate, defeated the Nets 116-106. With the loss, the Nets fell to 14-19 on the season while the Skyforce improved to 17-17.
Despite the loss, the Nets development efforts are paying dividends with five players finishing in double-figures.
Theo Pinson, the 6’7” Brooklyn guard on assignment, came within one rebound of a triple double putting up a 15/11/9 performance...
Jeremiah Martin, the Nets 6’4” two-way guard, had another solid performance, finishing with 21 points, six rebounds, two steals, one assist, and one block. Martin played 37 minutes in the loss, shooting 8-of-15 overall and 2-of-4 from deep.
Justin Anderson, the 6’6” swingman who had been a Nets 10-day, continued his efforts to make a name for himself, posting 21 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 38 minutes of play. Anderson shot 8-of-20 overall and 2-of-9 from deep in the loss.
Deng Adel, the 6’7” forward who has been a solid role player for Long Island this season, had a good outing, scoring 18 points, grabbing four rebounds, and handing out one assist in the loss. Adel played 35 minutes and finished the loss shooting 5-of-9 overall and went 3-of-4 from deep. Adel did record a team-high five turnovers in the loss.
As a team, Long Island did shoot the ball well in the loss. The Nets finished the loss going 13-of-32 from deep (41 percent) and 38-of-82 overall (46 percent). Long Island coughed up 13 turnovers, which is lower than their season average. With continual changes in the roster, turnovers have been a season-long issue for Long Island.
Shaun Fein started Martin, Pinson, Adel, Anderson, and Jonathan Kasibabu. John Egbunu (right ankle), Joe Cremo (back soreness), and Devin Cannady did not play.
The game came down to the fourth quarter but the Skyforce held the upper hand for most of the game. Sioux Falls inside play was a killer for Long Island throughout the game. The Nets took advantage of the Skyforce’s turnovers in the second half.
In the final minutes, the Skyforce held onto their late lead and connected on their free throws in the final minute to secure their win.
Long Island will be back in action when they take on the Oklahoma City Blue, the Thunder’s G League affiliate, on Tuesday, Feb. 11 in Oklahoma City. The Blue sit at 16-18 on the season and like the Nets, do not have an above .500 record at home (9-10).
After a rough first half of the season, the Nets are beginning to turn the page and bring back winning to the island. Despite their recent stretch of winning, the team’s chances of making the playoffs have increased but are not guaranteed.
Ironically, their play inside the Nassau Coliseum, their home arena, has been a killer for the team. The Nets are 7-11 at home this season with seven home games remaining. Long Island does not return to the Coliseum till Feb. 24 and have two away games remaining till their return.
In addition to their home play, Long Island has fought the injury bug throughout the season. John Egbunu, who has been dealing with a sore right ankle, has been sidelined for a month while Joe Cremo, their backup guard, has been dealing with back soreness for a couple weeks.
Fast approaching is the G League trade deadline, which is February 27 at 3:00 p.m. Last season, Trajan Langdon, who was the former Long Island Nets general manager, made a move to acquire Will Davis in exchange for a second and third round pick in the 2019 G League Draft. The move was made because their power forward/center, Drew Gordon, who was ruled out for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
Long Island could use some extra bodies down low. Jonathan Kasibabu and John Egbunu are the lone bigs on the roster forcing Fein to use Anderson at the 5 for some minutes during games. The center position is an area the Nets will need to improve to make a late playoff push.
At this time last season, the Nets sent their two-ways, Theo Pinson and Alan Williams, to Long Island to help the team finish the season strong and make a lengthy postseason run. It ended in a heartbreaking Game 3 loss in the G League Championship to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who were led by Gary Payton II and Isaiah Hartenstein.
Long Island has a tough schedule overall moving forward. The question remains will Brooklyn send Dzanan Musa and Theo Pinson from Barclays to Nassau to help their G League affiliate make a playoff push. Can Rodions Kurucs add a couple more games in the G League this season and what is the Nets plan for two-way guards Jeremiah Martin and Chris Chiozza moving forward?