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Seven Nets finish in double-figures as Long Island keeps playoff hopes alive, beating OKC, 121-115

Oklahoma City Blue v Long Island Nets Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

The Long Island Nets, led by CJ Massinburg’s team-high 21 points and seven rebounds, picked up their biggest win of the shortened G League season, defeating the Oklahoma City Blue, 121-115, in a dramatic overtime. With the win, the Nets have their playoff hopes hanging by a thread in the final week of the G League season. They’re currently a game and a half back of the eighth and final seed, with three to play.

“Incredibly proud of how these guys competed and played together as a group,” Bret Brielmaier said following the win. “Really felt in the second half. That ball really started to pop playing side-to-side offensively. We were able to get stops when we needed them so great team effort today.”

With 36 percent of the G League games this season decided by six points or less, this game was typically dramatic.

It all came down to the final minutes of regulation as Long Island, whose largest deficit had reached 15, made a valiant comeback to keep their playoff hopes alive. With the score tied up at 108, Jeremiah Martin, who finished with 15 points, three rebounds, and five assists, connected on a crafty and-one to put Long Island up by three but the Blue responded with five quick points to go up 113-111 with a minute to go.

Massinburg snagged a huge offensive rebound off a three by Reggie Perry, who finished with another dominant double-double of 19 points and 15 rebounds, to tie the game at 113 with 21.6 seconds remaining.

“Nineteen points but I think the biggest thing was his 15 rebounds,” Brielmaier said of Perry’s performance. “This is an incredible rebounding team and you felt him on that defensive end. His growth as a player both on and off the court through this experience has been tremendous. He’s got a bright future.”

Out of a timeout, Martin was called for an offensive foul, which was challenged unsuccessfully by Bret Brielmaier and the score remained tied at 113 but the Blue could not hit a game-winner, sending things into overtime.

“Biggest thing was to win the tip,” Brielmaier said about the Nets plan going into overtime. “That’s a huge advantage in a short period of time and Reggie came through with an unbelievable job winning that thing. We got a bucket first possession to set the tone so at the end of the day, we knew it was going to come down to stops and we got those.”

In the two-minute overtime period, the Nets pick-and-roll was the difference-maker along with their 2-3 zone, which Brielmaier praised after the win.

“Our zone has been really good for us and we kind of messed with a couple of zone defenses throughout this experience,” Brielmaier said. “Our guys’ communication today in that zone today was really high level.”

Long Island utilized their pick-and-roll to identify the key wrinkle in the Blue’s defense putting the Nets up 117-113 with 35.2 seconds remaining. After a game of fouls, Long Island held on to escape with a huge upset win over the Blue who went into the game with the G League’s third best record.

“I thought it was a pretty good win in my eyes,” Massinburg said post-game. “We were up maybe six or seven in the fourth quarter and the Blue came back. They are a tough team and didn’t lay down so we actually had to grind this win out. We ended up going into overtime. They had the ball with 15 seconds left and we had to get a stop. This team, we really needed to grind this game out. It wasn’t easy and it’s an appreciated win.”

In addition to Massinburg’s 21, Perry’s 19 and Martin’s 15, B.J. Johnson had 21 (and seven boards), Elie Okobo 12 (and 7 assists) and Nate Sestina and Jordan Bowden 10 each. Paul Eboua, the Nets 20-year-old Cameroonian rookie, finished with eight points and three boards in 16 minutes, his first action in five games.

Aside from seven players finishing in double-figures, Brielmaier’s biggest takeaway was his team’s intensity and approach. The Nets stuck to the game plan and that kind of mentality is something Brielmaier wants to carry over to finish out the season.

“Just our intensity, focus, and I thought this was our best day of understanding the game plan and personnel out there,” Brielmaier said. “Our guys were really locked in. This one meant a lot to them so you can feel that sense of urgency. That is the kind of mentality we need to have moving forward.”

The Nets finished the win shooting 45 percent overall and 26 percent from deep while recording 15 turnovers.

Long Island struggled in the first half defending Oklahoma City’s stretch-5 Omer Yurtseven, who finished with a career-high 34 points, 13 rebounds, and three assists in 34 minutes of play. Despite the Nets consistently scoring on the offensive end, the Blue ended the first half on a strong note, ending the half with a commanding seven-point lead.

Oklahoma City, who entered the contest as the third seed in the West, continued to run their offense through Yurtseven as the Blue utilized their size against Long Island’s small-ball rotation. With Yurtseven leading the charge offensively, the Blue grew their lead to 15 points but the Nets began to build some momentum playing uphill. Both teams struggled to shoot the three-ball in the first half but Perry, who finished the half with 14 points and seven rebounds along with Massinburg, who finished the half with 12 points and three rebounds led the Nets in the final minutes, cutting the deficit to only two points.

At the half, the Nets were shooting 46 percent overall but a struggling 4-of-18 from deep as their largest lead was only six points. The Blue put up identical numbers, shooting 47 percent overall and 4-of-15 from deep while their largest lead was 15 points.

Both teams traded baskets throughout the third and with 3:44 remaining, the game remained even at 74. The Nets did a good job doubling and crowding the paint on Yurtseven, who had his fingerprints all over the game, interrupting the flow of the Blue’s offensive plan. Following a timeout by Bret Brielmaier with 3:44 remaining, the Nets offense was flowing but their defense continued to struggle on switching as both teams entered the final 12 minutes of play tied at 85.

Long Island opened the fourth playing a 2-3 zone defense against one of the best offensives in the G League as the Nets went on a 13-4 run to grow an early 11-point lead. The Nets defense restricted ball movement as the Blue struggled to get the ball in the paint - an area Oklahoma City thrived in the previous three quarters running their offense through Yurtseven.

Long Island went on to tie the game at 133, sending the game into overtime. After pulling together key stops and smart offensive baskets, the Nets picked up the victory.

“This one feels good. We are going to enjoy it and understand that tomorrow’s another one,” Brielmaier said looking ahead. “We got to be up and ready to play and be even more locked in knowing that it is back-to-back and the physical toll it takes. We will enjoy this one, we will get our recovery in, and prepare for the next one.”

What’s next

The Long Island Nets will return to action Tuesday as the team will play the Austin Spurs, the Spurs affiliate, at 3:30 PM ET. Former Long Island Net Jonathan Kasibabu plays for Austin.

The game will be televised on ESPN +.