The Long Island Nets suffered the first loss of their shortened G League season, falling to the Lakeland Magic, the Magic affiliate, 106-100 Friday at Disney World. With the loss, the Nets fall to 1-1 in the 15-game regular season.
Following the loss, Bret Brielmaier characterized the defeat as a tough one.
“Tough loss. They never feel good but how we bounce back will be the exciting part about this,” Bret Brielmaier said following the loss. “We have an incredible group of guys in there and a resilient group, who have so far embraced this challenge. We will get better tomorrow and we will continue down this path of improving as a group.
Brielmaier elaborated, explaining how the outcome was weighted down by what he saw as an incomplete effort.
“I don’t think tonight was about the X’s and O’s of it. Tonight was about our spirit and our compete level,” Brielmaier said. “We showed it at times and too much of the game we didn’t so to me, this is less about execution and running plays. It was more about what encompasses being a Long Island Net. That fight, compete, that grit, and that scrappy mentality - we just lost our way in this game.”
For the G Leaguers, Jeremiah Martin, who played solid minutes for Brooklyn in the NBA “bubble,” was the lead scorer and game standout of Long Island. He finished with 21 points, six assists and two steals. B.J. Johnson, who played for Lakeland last season, finished with 18 points and seven rebounds, but was 1-of-7 from deep. Reggie Perry, who had 20 in the Nets first game, had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds to go with seven assists and a block.
The two teams opened the game trading baskets and focusing their offensive attacks at the rim. Despite trading baskets, Lakeland maintained the momentum throughout the game but Long Island started to gain consistency in the third, ending the quarter with a one-point lead.
The Nets got it up to a six-point lead in the early minutes of the fourth but the Magic responded and did not turn back - taking the lead and controlling the flow of the game as the quarter went on as Long Island failed to make shots when it counted and Lakeland did.
Martin noted how Long Island’s failure to control the tempo hurt.
“I wish we could have got this win. We kind of had a slow first start of the first half. The energy just wasn’t there and we tried to pick it up so we were kind of playing uphill all game,” Martin said following the loss. “We never got the lead as we wanted. Everyone was comfortable but they controlled the tempo the whole time and we were trying to catch up. They pulled it off at the end.”
Briemaier provided high praise for Martin, highlighting his effort on the court and his leadership in the two games played.
“He has been incredible. One of the leaders of this team,” Briemaier said of Martin. “He competes every day. He helps the younger guys and knows what it takes to get to that next level. Jeremiah has been incredible. Today, he was one of the bright spots, especially on the defensive side, but it is going to take all of our spirit and collective group, including our veteran guys, to bring this group to where we want to go. He has been incredible so far for this group. A compliment to him.”
Martin said he’s glad to be back with Long Island, being signed to a two-way last January.
“It feels good to be back with the Long Island Nets this season,” Martin said. “I didn’t get a full season with them last year because I was with Sioux Falls when we started off but it has been fun so far to start the season off with the Nets.”
With Martin holding valuable “bubble”experience, he said he tells the young guys on the team to stay ready, even if they aren’t playing in the shortened season.
“Just being ready to play because you never know with some guys playing heavy minutes, we may be sitting out a game with injuries and all that. Just don’t get discouraged,” Martin said. “It’s only 15 games and it seems like so small but it’s a lot of games. Just be ready, have confidence, and know how to get down, and keep the same routine because you never know when you are going to get your name called. That is what I tell the young guys.”
Briemaier said he wants Johnson to also take a leadership role on this team and wants him to help the Nets build the identity it needs in a short season.
“He’s a vet. He is extremely talented, plays the right way, and we have been fortunate to have him,” Brielmaier said on Johnson. “We will continue to help him lead this group and help this melding process of a bunch of guys that haven’t played together, some never playing in this league, and build this identity.”
As a team, Long Island shot 42 percent from the field and 27 percent from deep in the loss. In addition to a rough three-point shooting night, the Nets turned over the ball 15 times.
For Lakeland, Andrew Rousey led the way with 22 points in 33 minutes followed by former Nets 10-day Tahjere McCall, who finished with 19 points in 30 minutes.
Long Island will be back in action when the team plays the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets affiliate, Sunday at 7:30 PM ET. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN +.