Coming off their resounding home victory against the Raptors 905, the Long Island Nets looked to carry their momentum into the G League Thanksgiving mini-break with a Tuesday night showdown vs. with their rival Westchester Knicks.
The Nets were unable to carry their winning ways into Westchester’s temporary Bridgeport-based arena, falling 108-101.
Nets rookies Cam Thomas, who sparked Long Island’s late run against Raptors 905 with a 46-point show on Saturday night, was unavailable against the Knicks. He’s back with Brooklyn. Fellow rookies Day’Ron Sharpe and Kessler Edwards are with the the big club as well.
Long Island was also missing two other players, both guards. David Duke Jr. is still out with right hip flexor soreness and Marcus Zegarowski missed his first game of the G League season with plantar fasciitis. No word on severity of Zegarowski’s injury or how long he’ll be out.
After being locked in a close game early, the Westchester Knicks broke things open, closing the first period on a 11-0 run to hold a seven-point lead. The Knicks would maintain a double-digit advantage throughout the second quarter, and entered the halftime break up 59-44.
Westchester pushed the lead to 19 in third, but Long Island came storming back, cutting the deficit to five with 1:42 remaining in the third period. Entering the last 12 minutes of play, New York’s B-Team led by seven points.
The two squads traded triples to start the fourth and the Knicks flirted with a 10 point advantage — only for Long Island to quickly get it to five.
A three by Long Island’s Justin Jackson tied the ball game with 6:31 remaining. Later, a pair of Bryce Brown triples gave Long Island a four-point lead, but the Nets’ rival responded with an 8-0 run of their own.
A Brown free throw — good for two points — and a Brandon Rachal post-up had us all tied up with just over a minute remaining.
That’s when disaster struck for the Nets. Westchester converted on only one of two free throws but secured the offensive rebound and Brandon Goodwin subsequently splashed a 3-point shot, good for a four-point possession.
RaiQuan Gray, Brooklyn’s 59th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, turned the ball over on Long Island’s next offensive possession and the Nets were once again unable to secure a defensive rebound after Knicks missed two free throws.
Gray finished the night with a season-high 21 points as well as 11 rebounds, six of them offensive. Despite the gaudy stat-line, Gray still struggled against Westchester at points. With Duke and Zegarowski out and Josh Gray with Team USA, newcomer Isaiah Wright was the only true point guard on the roster. So, the 6’8” Gray was tasked with a lot of distributing duties.
The big out of Florida State has shown flashes of passing prowess, but was unable to create for his teammates against Westchester, finishing with six turnovers and one assist.
RaiQuan Gray poured in a season-high 21 points to go along with 11 rebounds for the Long Island Nets tonight! pic.twitter.com/wwVthFSMcE— NBA G League (@nbagleague) November 24, 2021
Nets wings Brandon Rachal and Bryce Brown scored 20 points a piece for Long Island, with each first-year Net bringing a vastly different skillset to the floor. Brown continued to be a microwave scorer while Rachal kept up his characteristically scrappy defensive play. Rachal, undrafted out of Tulsa, has become the team’s biggest surprise.
As for Westchester, former San Antonio Spurs first round pick Luka Šamanić led the way against Long Island. The Croatian big man finished the evening with 29 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists.
Let me tell you…it was even nicer to watch in person pic.twitter.com/wEjhwjYB1C— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) November 24, 2021
The Long Island Nets are away for the next 11 days. Players will return to their families for Thanksgiving before taking on the rest of the G League season.
The G League Nets’ next game will be back where the season started, in Delaware against the Blue Coats on December 4. Tip off is 7 p.m. ET and will be aired exclusively on NBAGLeague.com.