Despite having only the league-required minimum of eight players, the Long Island Nets were able to emerge with a win Wednesday at Nassau Coliseum, outlasting the College Park Skyhawks, 111-107, thanks mainly to a 40-point outing by Craig Randall II.
The was the first regular season matchup for either G League squad. Previously, the two teams participated in the development league’s Showcase games to begin the year.
Long Island and College Park won only four and five games, respectively, during the 12 ramp-up to begin the season, but showed out Wednesday evening at Nassau Coliseum.
To begin the year and the regular season, the Long Island Nets became the latest G League team to be hit with COVID-19. Players such as team stalwart Bryce Brown and newcomers Jordan Crawford, and Wayne Blackshear were out against the Skyhawks. Crawford and Blacksheare were only recently signed as replacement players themselves.
Due to the vast number of NBA G League players being called up or offered 10-day hardship contracts with NBA clubs, the league paused its regular season to start on January 5th instead of the originally scheduled date, December 27th.
The name of the game for Long Island was Craig Randall II, who joined the team as a local tryout player back in November. Randall II scored a career-high 40 points, while adding six assists and four rebounds while turning the ball over twice.
The 6’5” swingman out of UT-Martin shot 15-of-26 from the field, 6-of-14 from beyond the 3-point line. He added six assists and four boards. It was the second time a Long Islander has hit the 40-point mark. Cam Thomas had 46 in a win a month back.
Post-game, head coach Adam Caporn had this to say about Randall’s outpouring:
“He just keeps getting better and better. My main thing is that I’m just really happy for him, and he’s done everything that he’s been asked to do. Initially his role was [to] be a lockdown defender [and] shoot open shots, he came in his first game and hit a couple of threes, was super aggressive. He’s played a little point guard. We’re trying to evolve his game into a point guard He’s really a versatile player and that was just a great moment for him.”
Veteran guard Josh Gray contributed mightily as well. In the past week without G League games, Gray claimed a leadership role at Nets practices. The 28-year-old’s poise became key down the stretch. With 1:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, Gray lined up for a jump ball against Skyhawk Justin Tillman, a matchup in which he is giving up eight inches.
Not only did Gray win the jump, getting the ball to a teammate, but he was able to successfully relocate for a dagger three-pointer to give the Nets a seven-point lead with under a minute remaining.
Postgame, Caporn called it the “play of the year.” Beyond his jump-ball heroics, Gray added 22 points and 6 assists.
As for the Skyhawks, Tillman indeed led the way with 30 points and 15 rebounds, a dominant performance down against a Nets team with only one active 7-footer.
Here are Craig Randall’s full highlights:
The Long Island Nets will next take on the Greensboro Swarm on Friday, January 7th at 7pm. It will be the first game of a mini two-game series between the Swarm and Nets. The game is scheduled to tip-off at 7pm and will air on NBAGLeague.com and the YES App.