The Long Island Nets kicked off their G League bubble season with a heart thumper over the Iowa Wolves, the Timberwolves affiliate, 131-128, in the G League”bubble” at Walt Disney World. With the win, Bret Brielmaier recorded his first win as a head coach after more than a decade as an assistant coach in the NBA.
The game came down to the final seconds. With the score tied up at 128, Elie Okobo, the former Suns point guard, hit a game-winning three with 13.8 seconds remaining to seal the win for Long Island.
Following the win, Brielmaier wanted to make sure everyone knew Okobo called bank on his deep three but noted how the team shouldn’t have been in that position — explaining how mental lapses and blown coverages had the game to come down to the final seconds.
ICYMI: Elie Okobo (@ElieOkobo_0) game-winner to seal the Long Island Nets win over the Iowa Wolves last night.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) February 11, 2021
Bret Brielmaier said he called bank on the shot.
“Elie made a heck of a shot. He did call bank in case anyone was curious.” pic.twitter.com/Y2ho3QhWlw
“We tried to come down, get a switch, and Elie made a heck of a shot. He did call bank in case anyone was curious. It shouldn’t have been that close. We had some mental lapses down the stretch and a couple blown coverages so if we clean those up, we shouldn’t even be in that situation...
“Overall, I thought we did some really really good things and then we had some lapses that fell apart, especially defensively,” Brielmaier said following the win. “Started off the game with a defensive mindset that slowly deteriorated and got back in the game. We make a stand. Get back in the game. So, how we can continue to compete for longer periods will be a big challenge for us.”
B.J. Johnson led Long Island in scoring, finishing with 24 points, four rebounds, and one steal in 29 minutes of play. When asked about his play, Johnson took the team approach.
“I think we got a dynamic team in a sense that when we play defense and locked in on the half court, we can get it,” said the 6’7” wing. “When we just push it and everybody is flying up the court, it is hard for the defense to react. I got a couple of easy layups. That is how we want to play and when we play that way, it’s fun basketball.”
Johnson is grateful the Nets traded for him, along with his rights. The small forward appreciates how Long Island lets him play the way he wants to play.
“For this organization to make that trade for me, get my rights from Lakeland, and give me an opportunity to come out and try to lead these guys while playing my brand of basketball,” Johnson said. “They allow me to be myself and that will help me in the long run.”
Here’s some highlights...
Looking back at film from last night's Nets/Wolves game and loved his drive from BJ Johnson. Did a good job of switching the ball from his left to right to confuse the roll defender, which gave him an open lane to finish with the left. pic.twitter.com/PqbclbxLVd— Ridiculous Upside (@RidicUpside) February 11, 2021
Reggie Perry, sent to Long Island just last week, had a stat-stuffing performance, going off for 20 points and eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks, a steal and two 3-pointers in 24 minutes of play.
Brielmaier praised the Nets two-way rookie after the victory referring to him as a young man with so many tools. The Long Island head coach said you can feel Perry’s presence on the court but needs to work on his motor.
“Been incredible to work with,” Brielmaier said. “He’s a young man that has so many tools and you can just feel his presence on the court. When he is able to start putting together longer stretches of having that intense motor that you saw at times, he is going to be one heck of a player.”
Some highlights: Reggie Perry’s Long Island Nets debut, courtesy of LIN PR. pic.twitter.com/1lhmVVsHlx— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) February 11, 2021
On top of his game-winner, Okobo ended the night with 13 points and the most important shot of the day as well as nine assists.
As a team, Long Island finished the win shooting 51 percent from the field and 39 percent from deep while recording 13 turnovers. On top of their shooting, the Nets utilized their free-throws, shooting 11-of-13 from the charity strike.
As for the game, Long Island came out the gates firing as the team went on a 17-4 in the early going until 7:59 mark of the first. Iowa called timeout but Long Island continued their dominance and extended the run even more. The ball was moving around well. Shots were falling — they shot 83 percent overall and 100 percent from behind the arc for first quarter. It seems like the Nets couldn’t do any wrong. They ended the quarter up 41-21
In the second quarter, Perry was doing his thing in the post and Iowa’s defense still didn’t have an answer. Long Island kept allowing fast breaks and the Iowa squad was finding ways to finally score with ease. The Nets shooting cooled down and at the half the score was 70-59. BJ Johnson (15 points. 2 rebounds) and Perry (9 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 three’s) led the way.
After halftime, Long Island didn’t have an answer for former Knick —and Kevin Durant friend— Alonzo Trier. He helped surge a run that cut the lead to six right out of the break. He had a 12-point quarter. Iowa just wouldn’t go away once they saw hope of coming back. The team started knocking down more shots from deep, getting to the free throw line, and getting much needed stops on the defensive end. Before you knew it, they were able to tie the game at 99 a piece to end the quarter.
The Nets came out strong in the final period to respond. They went on a 14-0 run which forced the Wolves to talk things over. The Wolves finally scored at the 8:38 mark of the quarter and as mentioned, Okobo put the nail in the coffin, hitting the huge three.