The Long Island Nets faced the Cleveland Charge, the Cavs affiliate, on Wednesday in the first game of a two-game homestand, hoping to capitalize the confidence they gained in two close victories in Lakeland last week. After a back-and-forth affair, Long Island emerged with the win, 109-105, their third straight win.
Two-way David Duke Jr. led Long Island with a game-high 30 points, including 5-of-6 shooting from behind the arc. Here’s some highlights...
Craig Randall II added 21, the 11th time in 13 games he’s finished with 20+ points. Bryce Brown and Brandon Rachal chipped in with 16 each while Thon Maker had seven points and hit his first three since joining the team a week ago.
Wednesday’s matchup also marked Treveon Graham’s season debut, a bit of a homecoming for the forward. Graham, a former Brooklyn Net, had played a game with Long Island back in 2019, scoring 18 points.
The Nets jumped out to a roaring start in the first quarter, leading by as many as 17 points behind scoring from their back-court of Duke Jr. and Randall. They ended the quarter leading by 10 points, 31-21.
While Duke’s hot play continued in the next period, the Charge began to make up ground. Cleveland cut the lead to single digits almost immediately, and then had Long Island’s advantage down to just a possession or two. With 2:30 remaining in the half, the game was tied, 52-52.
Midway through the third, Canton took their first lead, 71-70. The two G League squads jockeyed for the rest of the quarter until Cleveland pulled away in the final minute of play. The Charge entered the fourth quarter up 86-79.
The Nets came back, and with one minute left, they led 107-103. Duke Jr. pulled down an offensive rebound with 22 seconds remaining, and the Charge intentionally fouled him on the ensuing possession. With a five-point lead, the game was sealed.
Postgame, head coach Adam Caporn commented on the progress Duke’s made: “It’s progressed a lot. He’s done a lot of work — a lot of work with Brooklyn, obviously. He’s got a really good plan [for development], we’re really united on it across the programs, the organization. And it’s a credit to him, he does the work. He’s hard to get out of the gym, he’s the guy you have to kick out at times — and he’s a very good learner.”
With the win, the Nets achieved their first three-game win streak of the season. On the win streak, Caporn said that “it feels good.”
He continued, “it feels like we’re building a little belief that we’re going to win. You know, we had a touch stretch there [tonight[ and I think in the past that would’ve made us flat. That’s the part that I’m really proud of, how we pulled together and we had a really good finish and good poise and I felt that we had good belief.”
As for Duke? Simply put, he just thinks that “everyone was playing within the system, and everyone was playing their game.”
Duke compared the current Randall to the one he played with his first stint in Long Island in November, “it’s like two different Craig’s.”
“He’s gotten so much more confident, he just has a swagger about him when he’s playing,” Duke added. “I think that helps the team so much, that’s what we need from him. So I really like this Craig, he gives us another threat on the outside.”
As for the Charge, former Kansas Jayhawk Malik Newman led the way with a team-high 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting, nailing four of his eight 3-pointers.
The Nets will see Cleveland again on Friday at Nassau Coliseum. The game will air on NBAGLeague.com and the YES App at 7 p.m.