The Long Island Nets won their second-straight game Thursday against the Maine Celtics, , 97-95. The overtime victory marked the first road win for Long Island as they improved to 4-7 on the year, while the Celtics fall to 9-2 and had their seven-game winning streak snapped.
Thursday night’s matchup was the first of two Nets-Celtics meetings to end the workweek; the two teams will face off again in Portland, Maine on Friday evening. From there, the Nets will travel to Las Vegas for the annual NBA G League Showcase.
Long Island was without their usual cast as David Duke, Kessler Edwards, and Day’Ron Sharpe were all back in Brooklyn with the Nets playing against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The Nets trailed for the majority of the first quarter, but pulled just slightly ahead in the closing minutes. Interestingly, Long Island did the majority of their damage inside the paint, and opted to start 7’1” center Adam Woodbury — who had been out of the rotation.
Long Island was able to maintain a slim lead throughout the second quarter, staying afloat with help from Brandon Racahal inside as well as a bevy of 3-point marksmen.
The Nets got off to a slow start offensively out of the halftime break, not scoring until the 8:24 of the third quarter. By the time they did put points on the board, Maine had already broken out to a five-point lead. The Nets stormed back and regain control of the ball game, holding a seven-point lead with four minutes remaining. The Celtics wouldn’t go down without a fight, though, and both squads entered the final period knotted up at 68.
The fourth quarter started close, and then the Nets erupted for a 10-0 run midway through the period. The Celtics were able to fight back to set up a down-to-the-wire finish when Brodric Thomas cut their deficit to three with 20 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing possession, Marcus Zegarowksi traveled with 16 seconds left after being unable to find a teammate to pass the ball to. Thomas subsequently hit a game-tying three with 11 seconds left.
Tasked with playing hero, Rachal dribbled the ball out of bounds with 8 seconds left, but coach Adam Caporn was able to call a timeout before the potential turnover. Rachal would then miss a driving layup with two seconds left on the after-timeout set. The Celtics were unable to get offense going with mere seconds remaining and both squads were headed to OT tied at 92.
In overtime, Josh Gray scored with 50 seconds left and then dished to RaiQuan Gray for a runner in the lane to extend the lead to four with 25 seconds left. The Celtics were forced to play the foul the rest of the way and that was all she wrote.
Josh Gray had another solid performance for the Nets on Thursday night. Despite coming off of coach Caporn’s bench since returning from Team USA Qualifying play, Gray led the Nets down the stretch with timely baskets and plays made for teammates. He finished the evening with 24 points, eight rebounds, and six assists.
Rachal added his usual defensive juice and supplied some offense as well to the tune of 22 points and nine rebounds, with five boards coming on the offensive end. Rachal is known for his contributions on the defensive end of the ball, but Thursday he was a true two-way contributor against Maine, nailing 2-of-3 attempts from behind the arc.
Josh Gray and Brandon Rachal were lethal for the @LongIslandNets in their win over Maine!— NBA G League (@nbagleague) December 17, 2021
Gray: 24 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 4 STL
Rachal: 22 PTS, 9 REB, 3 BLK pic.twitter.com/KX1kOtw21J
Brodric Thomas led the way for the Celtics against Long Island, scoring 25 points on 9-of-18 shooting, along with eight rebounds and three assists.
The Nets will see the Celtics again on Friday night for the second half of this Atlantic back-to-back. The game will tip off at 7pm and be broadcast at NBAGLeague.com.
Forward Zack Rollins has rejoined the Long Island after the Nets were granted an injury hardship exception by the league to allow for the additional roster spot while guard Jordan Bowden (right thumb injury and right meniscus surgery) and forward Justin Jackson (right adductor strain) missed time due to injury. No other rostered players — besides two-way players — were out for Long Island.