The impact of the loss to the G League’s worst team was immediately following the final buzzer sounding. Players and coaches walked to the locker room at Nassau Coliseum in silence.
With the lost, the Nets slide to two and a half games away from playoff contention with only eight games remaining, six of them on the road (although one of the road games is in nearby White Plains.)
Shaun Fein, the Long Island Nets coach, broke down the loss, emphasizing a lack of energy and focus for 48 minutes.
“Points off turnovers, they killed us on the glass, and one of the keys to the game was to be the one physical team and we weren’t,” Fein said following the loss. “The focus and energy for 48 minutes wasn’t there.
“Another key to the game we talked about before. In the second half, we got selfish. We stopped playing with pass, we took some bad three’s, told them not to settle but we settled on some. I will take some blame for that because I should have been stressing it more in the huddles and getting to the rim but when you shoot 70 percent at the rim, Devin (Cannady) is 9-for-9 and he is one of our best shooters and he was getting downhill. The other guys have to take some responsibility and try to do the same thing. I am just really disappointed.”
Also, a couple of the team’s stalwarts in recent games didn’t have big games. Nicolas Claxton had eight points and eight rebounds, shooting only seven times, making four. Justin Anderson has 12 points and four rebounds, but shot 3-of-13.
The Nets played well in the first, behind the play of Jaylen Hands, who went 3-3 from the field and 2-2 from deep putting the Nets up by two. Following the strong start, the Swarm hard hard and by the second half, they led. Their advantage at times decreased but by the fourth, it continued to grow.
Fein explained the tough part about the loss was losing to a team that has been eliminated from playoff contention, sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. He credits the fight if that group despite not playing for much.
“Credit to Greensboro,” Fein said. “They were an eight win team coming in. They aren’t playing for playoffs. We are. That’s the most disappointing thing is that we are playing for something and we not just lose to a team but get dominated by a team that has eight games left in their season and has no hopes of getting to the playoffs.”
“We can make the excuse that it is our fifth game in eight days but it’s professional basketball. You got to play through some stuff to achieve your goals and I don’t believe we did that today.”
Although their playoff hopes took a big hit, the Nets are not out of it quite yet. Long Island can possibly put it together and beat the odds.
Long Island has six of their eight remaining games on the road. Ironically, the Nets are a better road team then playing at the Nassau Coliseum record wise but they will need wins and other teams help in order to keep their playoff hopes intact.
Fein’s message to the team is to take each game at a time and not focus on the big picture. In addition, he just wants his group to play better and grow. His main the main goal heading into the seas
“I told the guys we got eight games left,” Fein said about his message to the team. “I think we still got a shot if we do some good things but it is not about that now. We gotta take it game by game and worry about us getting better and playing better basketball. If we can do that, I will be happy.”
Dzanan Musa, who led the Nets with 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists in 31 minutes as a starter, said the team did not play as hard as they needed to, considering they are in a tough playoff chase.
“We did not play as desperate as we should have,” Musa said following the loss. “We are fighting for playoffs and they were the better team tonight and that is unacceptable.”
As for the message heading into the tough six game road trip, Musa said there is no clear message. Just go there and win games and stick together as a team.”
“Just go out there, play, and win as many games as possible,” Musa said about the plan heading into a six game road trip. “Stay together and win as many games.”
Devin Cannady was the high man for the Nets in the loss, Cannady scored a game-high 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting overall and went 2-of-6 from deep.
As a team, the Nets finished the loss going 34-of-82 (41 percent) overall and 8-of-40 (20 percent) from deep. Long Island coughed up 19 turnovers in the loss.
Fein started Deng Adel, Hands, Musa, Anderson, and Claxton.
The Nets played well on both ends of the floor in the first, especially on the offensive end. Long Island executed on their pick-and-rolls plays and did a good job luring the Swarm defense inside to open up three-point shooting.
Long Island finished the first 12 minutes of play shooting 12-of-17 (71 percent) and went 3-of-5 (60 percent) from deep, coughing up nine turnovers.
The Nets offense was balanced throughout the first in terms of player scoring but Hands was the offensive standout player.
The former UCLA Bruin had eight points in seven minutes, but that, as it turned out, was his offensive production for the night.
After a strong start for the Nets, Greensboro turned it on in the second, especially on the offensive end. The Swarm pulled together a 9-0 scoring run from the 5:28 mark up till the the 2:19 mark, behind catch-and-shoot deep shots.
Following the scoring run, the Nets regained their footing and closed out the first half trading baskets with the Swarm, but at the half, Long Island trailed 55-49.
Musa led the Nets with 12 first half points on 5-of-8 shooting overall and going 1-of-2 from deep followed by Hands, who went scoreless in his four minutes of play in the second.
As a team, Long Island entered the second half shooting 19-of-36 (52 percent) and 6-of-17 (35 percent) from deep. The Nets recorded only four second quarter turnovers, ending the first half with 13.
The Nets focused their offensive play around their driving and getting to the charity strike. Long Island, who are a very consistent free throw shooting team, only shot five free throws in the first half.
As the quarter progressed, Long Island went back to shooting three’s and looking for the outside shooter. The Nets went only 2-of-13 in the quarter. On the defensive end, the Nets struggled getting around off-ball screens and pick-and-roll plays. In addition, the Swarm went 4-of-6 from deep in the quarter.
At the end of the third, Long Island trailed 86-73.
After beginning to pull together a comeback effort, Greensboro continued to provide answers late in the game, especially crowd silencing three’s, taking the momentum out of the Nets.
In the end, Long Island fell to Greensboro as the team packs their bags for an upcoming six game road trip with their playoff hopes hanging.
Long Island begin their road trip when they travel to the Sears Centre to take on the Windy City Bulls, Thursday.