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Long Island Nets fall to Capital City Go-Go in heartbreaker, 106-104, on second half of back-to-back

Capital City Go-Go v Long Island Nets Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images

After defeating the Capital City Go-Go in a thrilling overtime game on Wednesday night, the Long Island Nets were back at Nassau Coliseum Friday for a rematch against Washington’s G League team.

After maintaining a lead for the majority of the game, the Nets fell victim to a comeback eerily similar to theirs on Wednesday, except this time Long Island was on the losing end, 106-104. The defeat was their first home loss of the 2021-22 season for the young Nets. Long Islands falls to 1-2 on the young G League season.

After a tight beginning to the first quarter, Long Island jumped out to a healthy, multi-possession lead and maintained it throughout the second quarter. The Nets led 62-55 at halftime.

The Nets continued to lead comfortably throughout the third quarter, even pushing the lead to 16 points thanks to a Jordan Bowden 3-pointer.

Early in the fourth, though, Capital City came storming back – much like Long Island had on Wednesday night. A mere two minutes into the final period of play, the Go-Go claimed the lead for the first time since early in the first quarter.

As the two teams went back and forth for the final period, Long Island found themselves down two and on defense. Veteran guard Josh Gray deflected a Go-Go pass, and chaos ensued. Gray dished to two-way player Kessler Edwards under the basket, who quickly found himself swarmed by Capital City defenders. His kick-out pass was off-target, and saved miraculously at halfcourt by Marcus Zegarowski. Coach Adam Caporn then called timeout to retain possession and not risk another turnover.

On what would be the final possession of the game, Long Island ran a sidelines play to extend the game, but the play broke down and the ball found RaiQuan Gray’s hands instead. His heave was no good.

Postgame, Long Island Nets head coach Adam Caporn took responsibility to the execution of the final play: “Yeah, no. No, we didn’t really get it done the way we wanted Which is totally on staff, we used a lot of our plays last game. Worked on some new ones, didn’t know them well enough.”

After a disappointing start to the season — he scored only six points in Long Island’s first two games, the 6’8” Gray stood out against the Go-Go. The Florida State product, taken with the next to last pick in the 2021 Draft, posted a stat-line of 15 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists in 23 minutes.

“I think he’s got quite a unique role on our team as a facilitator, and goes between multiple positions,” Caporn said of Gray, post-game. “So, to be really fair to him, he’s taken on a lot, done it really well, great practices, he’s just had to break through in games. Obviously, he wasn’t happy with his performance last game. We know he’s really well-intentioned, and he’s doing the work, so, we found better ways to get him involved early, and really proud of the way he played and competed.”

It was a balanced scoring night for Long Island. Seven Nets players scored in double-figures, and all seven attempted double-digit field goal attempts. One of the seven, Brandon Rachal, finished with a double-double. The 6’6” Tulsa product had 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Caporn commented on the egalitarian offensive approach. It was coincidental, he said.

“I mean, it’s not the objective, it’s to work together as a team for the best shots you can, and sometimes, positionally, that’ll make more sense in games,” said the Long Island head coach.

The Brooklyn corner

Rookies Cam Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe were away with Brooklyn on Friday night as they visited New Orleans to take on the Pelicans. Two-way David Duke Jr. remained out with a sore right hip flexor, leaving the team’s other two-way, Kessler Edwards, the sole (Brooklyn) Net to take the floor against the Go-Go.

Edwards scored 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field, including a 3-of-5 outing from beyond the arc.

Though his shooting efficiency may not be pretty, Edwards is attacking in a myriad of ways on the floor. As he noted on postgame: “I think the main thing is just being aggressive. I just have confidence in myself that can come out in multiple ways, so, whatever I feel the best shot is is what comes out”

Edwards made his mark on the defensive end as well. He finished the night with two steals and the three blocks against the Go-Go, as well as five defensive rebounds. The 44th pick in the 2021 Draft has consistently shown himself able to bang down low with bigger opponents. Postgame, he commented on his defensive mindset:

“Yeah, I think [it’s] something, I’ve gotta lead the the team in defense … that’s something I take pride in, being a versatile defender, [a] team defender.”

On the Capital City end of things, guard Joel Ayayi once again stood out. After a triple double on Wednesday, Ayayi scored 16 points on 8-fo-9 shooting from the field while dishing out 9 assists.

Here are the game highlights:

Long Island will be back on the road for their next game, a Wednesday night contest against the Westchester Knicks. That game and Westchester’s entire home schedule will take place at Webster Bank Arena, in Bridgeport, Conn., the Post’s Marc Berman reports. Westchester County Center, where they normally would play, has become a COVID vaccination site for White Plains.

The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. and airs on ESPN+