After an impressive month of February, the Long Island Nets seem unable to find their old magic in March. They’ve now dropped four straight matchups going back to March 9, with many being of the close variety — games the Nets would routinely win during their nine-game winning streak.
Sunday’s matinee game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants was no different. The Nets went to overtime against the Pacers affiliate, ultimately falling short, 116-108.
Entering the game, Long Island was missing their top scorer and distributor, Craig Randall II, who was not with the team due to personal reasons. He was watching along from home, though, cheering on Jordan Crawford in this tweet...
YESSIR JC!!!!!— Dos (@moneyteam1222) March 20, 2022
Also, guard/forward Tyrone Wallace is no longer with Long Island. He signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans last week. Similarly, Fort Wayne was missing their top scorer (and former Long Island and Brooklyn Net) Justin Anderson, who was signed to a 10-day deal by Mad Ants’ parent clubs, the Pacers.
Veteran NBA guard Jordan Crawford, who is in his second stint with Long Island, led the way for the Nets on Sunday with 36 points on 13-of-22 shooting, including 8-of-13 from three. With Randall unavailable, the 33-year-old Crawford stepped up to fill the shot-making void for the Nets.
Then, there was Brooklyn Nets assignee Day’Ron Sharpe, who scored 20 points on 9-of-19 shooting snagged 17 boards —three offensive — and blocked four shots. He also hit two of his six 3-point attempts It was the 6’11” big’s second monster game in the last two outings. Four days ago, he posted 30 points, 22 rebounds (including 15 offensive, a G League record) and four blocks vs. the Westchester Knicks.
Here’s some highlights from Crawford and Sharpe...
.@jcraw55 going off! 19 PTS and counting pic.twitter.com/wGMnjKOiUz— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) March 20, 2022
Sunday SAUCE— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) March 20, 2022
Another double-double from @dayron_sharpe. 16 PTS, 12 REB, 2 BLK with 4 minutes left in the third pic.twitter.com/GBXnFdvh8L
Sharpe’s most important bucket of the afternoon was surely a game-tying put-back with less than two seconds remaining to send the game to overtime...
Headed to OT thanks to @dayron_sharpe! pic.twitter.com/zAg3GQrN6m— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) March 20, 2022
The game was close throughout the first three quarters. The Nets held the biggest lead of the afternoon for either squad — nine points — mid-way through the fourth, though it quickly fizzled.
After Sharpe’s put-in basket to send the game to an extra period, the Nets struck first in OT with a Duke Jr. pull-up jumper. Duke Jr. returned to the court in Fort Wayne after missing time with a right ankle sprain. He chipped in with 17 points and five rebounds but his jumper would be Long Island’s only score in OT as Fort Wayne finished out with a 10-0 run from there.
With the loss, the Nets are back in the sixth seed in the East standings, good for the final playoff spot, as they continue to jockey with the Grand Rapids Gold. They still have a buffer over the rest of the conference for postseason qualification, but it is getting slim. With this loss, it seems unlikely that the Nets will finish in the top 4 seed ... and host a first-round playoff game at Nassau Coliseum.
Long Island will look for revenge in a rematch against the Mad Ants tomorrow in Fort Wayne. The game will tip off at 7:00 p.m. ET and is available to be streamed exclusively on NBAGLeague.com. Sharpe will be in Fort Wayne for the game.