Heading into their Sunday night game against the Motor City Cruise, every member of the Long Island Nets knew what was on the line.
Entering the night, Long Island had won five straight games and nine of their last 11 — with the only two losses coming to Motor City.
The Cruise, the G League affiliate of the Detroit Pistons, may have been shorthanded against the Nets, but that didn’t take away from the magnitude of the win for Long Island.
After yet another down-to-the-wire finish, the Nets toppled their foe, 113-109, putting them only 1.5 games back of top seeded Motor City in the East. At 14-8, Brooklyn’s G League affiliate team is right in the thick of the conference battle.
Long Island was led — once again— on Sunday night by Craig Randall II, who tallied 28 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in 39 minutes. He was 4-of-11 from deep, pushing him up to a league-league 100 3-pointers made.
Former NBA lottery pick Thon Maker added 16 points and nine rebounds, while shooting 7-of-8 from the field in 24 minutes, and was a defensive presence on the floor in the Nets’ closing lineup.
Long Island head coach Adam Caporn called it Makers’ best performance of the season.
The big man explained postgame how easy it is to play with Randall II , saying, “It’s easy because the defense respects him so much, so that makes your job easier as a big, it makes it easier to screen for him because mostly [the defense] will go over. You’ve got less thinking to do with a guy like that.”
Caporn praised Maker’s defense, versatility, effort, and energy as well, adding, “He’s just taking some time to get comfortable.”
Forward Tyrone Wallace recorded 25 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists in 41 minutes. Wallace and Randall continue to be the Nets’ double-headed scoring options down the stretch, each chipping in when the defense hones in on the other.
As for Motor City, Saben Lee hurt the Nets once again, scoring 37 points to go along with four rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes.
The Nets struck first with an 8-0 run to open the game, but only led by two points to close the first quarter, largely due to poor 3-point shooting.
And after more of the same in the second quarter, the Cruise extended what was just a one-possession game out to as many as nine points; they would ultimately lead 58-51 at halftime.
With Bryce Brown, Long Island’s underrated shooting guard, striking first in the third, the game got tighter entering the final 12 minutes of play. It was the Nets solid quarter of defense in the third that had put them in position for the final push. They held Motor City to a mere 15 points.
The Nets maintained the lead for the entire fourth quarter, but the Cruise kept it close enough until the final minutes, when they trailed by just two points with 2:42 remaining.
With an opportunity to tie the game with a three in the final 18 seconds, Motor City opted for a drive to the rim. That missed, and the rebound ricocheted into a jump ball between Treveon Graham and Cheick Diallo. Graham won the tip and Long Island secured the ball,
The Cruise intentionally fouled Wallace, who nailed one free throw to clinch victory for Long Island.
Randall, who found his way onto the Long Island roster via a local tryout in Brooklyn back in September, is now fourth in the G League in scoring at 26.1 per game. He’s also first in minutes.
Here are the game highlights:
Next, the Nets will host the Delaware Blue Coats on Wednesday night in another game full of playoff and seeding implications. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. and it will air on ESPN+ and the YES App.
- Game Report: Long Island Nets 113, Motor City Cruise 109 (with Video) - G League
- Long Island Nets Highlights vs. Motor City Cruise (Video) - G League
- Thon Maker (16 points) Highlights vs. Motor City Cruise (Video) - G League
- Tyrone Wallace (25 points) Highlights vs. Motor City Cruise (Video) - G League