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Long Island defeats G League Ignite, 109-97, with 10-day contract date looming

Iowa Wolves v Long Island Nets Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

Playing against the G League Ignite, the highest profile team in the G League Bubble, the Long Island Nets were able to come out on top, 109-97, at the AdventHealth Arena at Walt Disney World.

Long Island improved to 3-5 in the abbreviated G League season, just past the halfway mark of the eventual 15 games. Despite sitting in the fourteenth seed -- and needing to be in the top eight to qualify to the postseason — they’re only a game and a half back, more than a puncher’s chance with seven games remaining.

Reggie Perry, the Nets two-way player, had 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, even draining a 3-pointer. Jeremiah Martin, who played on the Nets roster in the bubble last year, had 24 points and 8 assists, consistently exploding to the hoop and not only finishing himself but finding teammates down low.

Here’s Perry’s highlights...

After coming out strong in the first quarter, the Nets held the lead the rest of the way. Ignite would make runs, even cutting the deficit to a mere four points multiple times, but Long Island would fight back every time to maintain separation around eight points in the first half.

Starting the second half, the Ignite made yet another run, only the Nets answered stronger than ever and permanently extended their lead to double digits. Long Island coach Bret Brielmaier talked about that energy ... especially from his bench players.

“Two great halves defensively, I challenge this group to improve on how we started the game, a 40 point first [quarter] our last game, a 38 point versus Delaware, [those were] unsustainable numbers and the guys responded.

“And a big part of that was our bench. They continually bring energy, and effort, and play the right way. Tariq [Owens]’s been incredible, the pressure he puts on the rim and his ability to protect it, and then CJ [Massinburg] is such a winner, he does so many little things that the average fan may miss, but CJ’s the one that get every loose ball, comes up with a big shot, tips something out for us to recover, the kid is just an absolute winner.”

I asked Martin about his playmaking, Here’s what he said:

“We knew they had a lot of good shot blockers, so I knew if I got them in the air the dish was going to be there every time, and those guys around the G League know that I’m trying to get to the rim and finish,” said Martin. “I already had it in my mind that I was going to be dishing it out because I knew it was going to be an easy bucket for my teammates.

It’s possible he knows the jump-heavy tendencies of former “bubble” teammates Donta Hall. Check out Martin’s highlights from the game...

The G League Ignite are a new type of G League team, made up of talented draft prospects like Jalen Green and Johnathan Kuminga (who Kyrie Irving mentored while at the Patrick School in New Jersey) as well as NBA veterans like Jarrett Jack and Amir Johnson.

Despite the hype surrounding Ignite, Brielmaier said that his team’s energy is “never about the opponent” and they really came out and played well on their own volition. Martin added:

“Yeah, I mean we wanted to win. Credit those guys, they’re very talented with it, the young guys they’re talented, they’ve got everything, they’ve got shooting, they’ve got athleticism, they’ve got size, and we knew it was going to be a tough task because you can take the ages out and they’re still good players.”

Those “young guys” excelled, namely Jalen Green, who had 21 points on 5-of-6 shooting from deep. Green embraced Reggie Perry postgame. The two played together on Team USA’s gold medal-winning FIBA U19 World Cup entry. Perry was the MVP of that tournament.

Former Net Donta Hall also played well, adding 15 points of his own and grabbing 12 rebounds.

Interestingly, tomorrow is the date where NBA squads are eligible to sign players to 10-day contracts. It’s the beginning of a busy stretch for end-of-the-benchers, as Bobby Marks noted earlier Monday...

One such player could be Martin, who was on a two-way contract with the Nets last year but isn’t this season. There are 12 roster openings currently in the NBA, a fluid number. I asked Martin about the possibility of moving up, whether to Brooklyn or elsewhere.

“I’m just trying to go out there and have fun, to be honest. Just go out there playing, not worried about the 10-days, call-ups, anything. I’m just in a moment right now having fun with my new teammates. I’m here with a whole bunch of guys, the whole team is new to me except CJ Mass[inburg], and I’m just having fun with them everyday in this bubble.”

The Long Island Nets will play next against the Agua Caliente Clippers on Wednesday. The game will tip off at 7pm. ET and be broadcast on ESPN+.