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Playing from behind most of the game, Long Island Nets lose to Santa Cruz Warriors, 108-88

Long Island Nets v Santa Cruz Warriors Photo by Chris Marion/NBAE via Getty Images

C.J. Massinburg, now in his second year with the Long Island Nets, was asked after the G League team suffered another loss Saturday, what it’s like playing from behind.

“It’s pretty tough playing from behind, you know, we can’t dig ourselves [into] a hole,” Massinburg said, then added a fascinating detail about how the organization tracks player effort!

“We have these little chips that they put in our undershirts and it tracks how much energy were exerting and things like that, and the games where we dig ourselves [into] a hole, our numbers skyrocket,” said Massinburg. “The amount of work we have to put in is way up relative to when we’re even with a team or if we’re up on a team.”

The numbers don’t lie. And on Saturday evening, Long Island Nets players must have been pinning the needle on the effort gauge once again. The Long Island Nets dropped another game in the Disney “bubble”, making it two straight defeats, losing 108-88, to the Santa Cruz Warriors, Golden State’s affiliate. The Nets are now 4-7, two and a half games out of the G League playoffs with four to play.

Other than a tight first quarter, the Nets trailed for essentially the entirety of the remainder of the game, getting close a couple of times, even tying it briefly in the third, but got blown out at the end.

“These holes we’re digging ourselves in, sometimes they’ll be too much to crawl out of, but that’s something that we’re focusing on and we should do better the last four games of the regular season.” said Massinburg.

Reggie Perry continued his stellar play, dropping 15 points on 7-of-12 shooting as well as grabbing eight rebounds. Kaiser Gates, Long Island’s 6’7” swingman, added 16 points on 4-of-8 shooting from deep, while Ellie Okobo had 11 points and dished out eight dimes.

After a deadlocked first quarter, the Warriors tried to pull away in the second, but the Nets made it difficult right up until the end. With two minutes left in the half half, Santa Cruz went on a run and held a 50 to 37 halftime advantage.

After a back-and-forth third quarter, the Nets ended the period on a 11-2 run, and only trailed by 3. The bench unit tied up the game shortly into the fourth frame, but when Santa Cruz’s starters checked back in, it became ugly. Long Island watched the deficit balloon from double digits. I asked Brielmaier about the play from the bench unit:

“[The] bench was incredible. CJ Massinburg, Elie Okobo play beautifully today, making the right plays offensively, really setting up some shooters, Tariq Owens, another just solid performance from him, our bench is a group that brings energy and stability to us, and you felt that at times today.”

One player who hasn’t been showing out the box score this season is starting point guard Shannon Scott. The 28-year-old had zero points in today’s showing, and his total is often in single digits. Coach Brielamier spoke on Scott’s leadership postgame.

“Shannon’s probably our consistent and simple player on this team. Somehow, he just finds a way to get it done. He has incredible knowledge and basketball IQ of the game, and you see it with some of the passes he makes, his ability to impact the game defensively, and to his credit - what he’s done to help our locker room, especially the young guys, has been invaluable. It’s been so powerful to this group.”

As for the Santa Cruz Warriors, former Long Island Net Nate Hinton had 13 points, while Ryan Taylor added 16 of his own. The real story, though, was Golden State’s second round draft selection Nico Mannion. Mannion had 25 points and eight assists, including three shots from behind the three-point arc. Jeremy Lin didn’t play.

The Long Island Nets will play next against the Oklahoma City Blue at AdventHealth Arena on Monday. The game will tip off at 11:00pm. ET and be broadcast on ESPN+.