Long Island Nets head coach Adam Caporn didn’t have to be asked.
“We know where we’re at; we need to win tonight,” Caporn said pre-game.
Entering Tuesday night’s game against the Windy City Bulls, the G League affiliate of the Chicago Bulls, Long Island had dropped their previous six games and found themselves out of the top six seeds in the East Conference even after holding a playoff spot for much of the season.
Though Caporn and the rest of Long Island’s staff will be closely watching scores from around the G League, That may be their only chance at the post-season. With three games left, they’re a half game out of the playoffs and a game out of fifth.
Long Island came out of the gates absolutely on fire from behind the 3-point arc, connecting on 10 of 13 long-range attempts in the first quarter. They led Windy City 44-23 after twelve minutes played.
The Nets cooled down in the second period after that unsustainably hot start to the game, but still maintained a hefty lead at halftime, 68-54. Bryce Brown was Long Island’s team high scorer, with five threes accounting for a total of 17 points.
Windy City continued to slowly chip into Long Island’s lead in the third quarter, but they were hampered by their difficulties at the free throw line. The Bulls shot 4-for-17 at the charity stripe through three quarters.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Nets were up 82-72. But then, Bryce Brown happened. The Long Island’s streakiest shooter was already hot in the first half, hitting five three-pointers, but added a trio of triples in the opening minutes of the fourth as well. Long Island led comfortably by double-digits as the clock winded and the Nets conquered Windy City for the third time this year, sweeping the season series. Final score: Long Island 116, Windy City 105.
“We had to win that game,” Caporn said postgame.
Now, the Nets will face Raptors 905 and the Capital City Go-Go to finish out the year, two games Long Island must win in order to maximize their postseason chances.
Sharpshooting Brown led the way for Long Island, nailing eight three-pointers en route to 26 points. Brown has been a streaky shooter all year, but on a night where it was all going right for the Nets, he was no exception.
Brooklyn rookie Day’Ron Sharpe was a force inside the paint for the Nets, scoring 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting while also grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists. Sharpe, who’s been encouraged to shoot from deep, finished 1-of-3 from 3-point range.
Four players scored 20 or more points for Long Island on Tuesday night, with Jordan Crawford and David Duke Jr. each having their share after Sharpe and Brown. Duke Jr. got serenaded with an “MVP” chant by two young Long Island fans.
Caporn attributed this scoring trend to the Nets running less pick-and-roll with lead ball-handler Craig Randall II out with personal reasons and former backcourt made Ty Wallace no longer on the team. Without a typical high pick-and-roll offense, more players have opportunities to score.
The Nets worn seafoam and green Tuesday, a tribute to the New York Liberty in a crossover promotion between the two teams on Women’s Impact Night.
Next, the Nets will face the aforementioned Raptors 905 on Thursday night, again at Nassau Coliseum. The game will tip-off at 7 p.m. and air on NBAGLeague.com and the Yes App.