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Long Island Nets defeat Capital City Go-Go in Home Opener OT thriller, 109-103

Capital City Go-Go v Long Island Nets Photo by David L. Nemec/NBAE via Getty Images

In their first game back at the Nassau Coliseum in 612 days, the Long Island Nets defeated the Capital City Go-Go in an overtime thriller, 109-103. Capital City, the G League affiliate of the Washington Wizards, led for the majority of the game, but Long Island fought back in the fourth quarter and won it in OT.

The Nets G League affiliate is now 1-1.

Postgame, head coach Adam Caporn credited solving defensive problems in the second half for the win. “Today, I thought we responded well. We changed some things defensively, played more physical, cleaned up some of the switching, and put our effort into that,” he said. “And rebounding, we were undersized and played, so we really had to compete there.”

Seeing as the game was the home opener for the 2021-22 NBA G League season, David Duke Jr — who embracing the role of a leader with Long Island — addressed the crowd pre-game.

And that crowd came alive late for Nets in their home opener. As forward Brandon Rachal said postgame: “The crowd energy was amazing. We fed off of it, especially late in the fourth quarter and going into overtime too, the crowd kept us in it.”

With Long Island leading by three points with just under 30 seconds, Capital City had possession with a chance to tie. After a 3-point attempt that missed rim, Go-Go point guard Joel Ajayi hit a game-tying three off an offensive rebound. On the subsequent possession, Nets Two-Way Forward Kessler Edwards missed a running floater off of a “dummy” handoff action, and Long Island headed to overtime tied at 101.

In the extra period, Long Island set the tone by driving to the rim and taking advantage in transition after missed shots by the Go-Go. The Nets limited Capital City to just two points in OT.

After a tight first quarter, Capital City pulled away to a double digit lead midway through the second quarter. With Day’Ron Sharpe with the Brooklyn Nets in Orlando, Long Island went small in some stretches, with forwards RaiQuan Gray, Kessler Edwards and even Brandon Rachal claiming the center spot in some lineups.

That mismatch with centers such as Greg Monroe (whoa, throwback!) led to Long Island facing a deficit, but small-ball anchored by Edwards and Rachal led Brooklyn’s G League squad back into the game in the third quarter. Caporn acknowledged the strategic adjustments implemented with the small lineup:

“Yeah, we went more position-less, we were playing small. We were struggling to run effective and share the ball — that’s on me, that’s not on any of our any players — our offense wasn’t flowing as well, [so] we went to that decision to get some pace in the game and a bit more drive-and-kick, and a bit more decision making [and] ball-handling.”

Edwards commented on the Go-Go’s adjustment (or lack thereof) for him to gurding bigger players down low: “Thats actually something I’ve had to my whole life. Just being a taller player, growing up when I was younger, I used to play the center all the time. Being a wing is something that I just started doing recently ... I consider myself a versatile defender, so whoever I guard, I’ll guard them.”

Fresh off of a 35-point outburst in Long Island’s season opener against the Delaware Blue Coats on Saturday, Brooklyn Nets other first round pick Cam Thomas was also with the big club in Orlando with the Brooklyn Nets, no longer on assignment in the G League.

Further reducing Long Island’s firepower, Duke Jr. was also out with right hip flexor soreness. Postgame, Caporn described Duke’s as “day-to-day, short term, nothing serious.”

With Thomas and Sharpe away with Brooklyn and Duke out, Kessler Edwards was the only Brooklyn representative against Capital City. He started out the evening hot from three, and finished the night by nailing 4 of his 10 attempts from behind the 3-point arc.

Edwards finished the night with 24 points on 9-of-23 shooting and 10 rebounds, good for his first double-double of the G League season. Postgame, Edwards spoke on his aggressive mentality: “All my coaches and teammates were telling me to stay aggressive no matter what, even when I was missing a couple shots, just not losing my confidence.”

Undrafted rookie swing man Brandon Rachal, a 6’6” Tulsa product, had a stellar performance against Capital City, scoring a team-high 25 points on 9-for-11 shooting. Rachal also led the team in +/- against Capital City, going +18 while on the floor.

Craig Randall ll, the only player on Long Island’s roster signed off a local tryout, scored 15 on 5-of-10 shooting, including 3-fo-5 from behind the arc and some tenacious defense. Postgame, Caporn recognized Randall’s performance:

“Craig Randall’s a local tryout player, playing his first game, really happy for him. We knew he was good. He’s not just a guy who belongs on that court, he’s a good basketball player; he’s going to have a long career. To get him stepping up was really special, and helpful, obviously.”

As for Capital City, guard Jordan Goodwin led the way with 18 points on 7-for-17 whilst grabbing 10 rebounds.

Here are the game highlights:

Long Island’s next game will be Friday, night, also against the Go-Go, the second half of a mini-series. The game tips off at 7 p.m and will be available on the G League’s website and on the YES app.