The Long Island Nets were already setting the world on fire entering Sunday’s matinee game with the Cleveland Charge.
Then they got reinforcements ... and their eighth straight win in downtown Cleveland.
Two-way player David Duke Jr., who’s spent time with Brooklyn’s G League squad, headed to Cleveland from Brooklyn. Duke was joined Sunday by rookie center Day’Ron Sharpe, who was on assignment from the Nets after starting eight games with Brooklyn.
After struggling with various injuries and availability issues all year, Brooklyn has finally regained its depth, allowing the two youngsters to get minutes and development time in the G League.
However, Duke left the game after only 10 minutes due to a hard fall after an attempted dunk. Later, it was determined that Duke Jr. suffered a left ankle sprain. There’s currently no timetable for his return.
On the other hand, Sharpe’s 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists helped Long Island emerge victorious.
The Nets’ fiery southpaw back-court came through once more. Tyrone Wallace posted 33 points, eight assists, and five rebounds while Long Island’s other star guard, Craig Randall II, finished with 27 points, six rebounds, and four assists on the afternoon, hitting six 3-pointers. Randall now has a league-leading 112 three’s on the season, 37 ahead of the players in second place. He’s also now the league’s second highest scorer at 26.3 ppg.
And though Sharpe’s arrival may have disrupted Long Island’s rock solid center rotation of Thon Maker and Adam Woodbury, Maker still posted 20 points and 5 rebounds, as well as a season-high four 3-pointers, missing only one. The former NBAer had only drained three long-balls for the entire season previously. Maker is now averaging 19.0 points and 8.3 rebounds over the last three games. Woodbury did not see the floor against Cleveland).
After a close first half, the Nets pulled away mid-way through the third quarter, holding the only double-digit lead of the afternoon. The Charge were able to chip away in the closing minutes of the fourth, however, and sent the game to overtime with a buzzer-beating tip in by Dylan Windler.
In the G League’s short two-minute extra period, Cleveland was unable to score until the Nets fouled a 3-point jump shooter, Cameron Young, with the shot clock winding down and only 30 seconds to go. The Charge had to a shot to win it with 5.2 seconds left, down 120-119.
The Nets held strong defensively on a Malik Newman drive that clanked off as time expired and improve to 16-8 on the year, now the 4th seed in the Eastern conference.
Long Island will next play the Grand Rapids Gold at 11 a.m. on Wednesday in Long Island. The game will be telecast on the YES App and ESPN+