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Jalen Wilson’s 33 points, late bucket, lead Long Island Nets to 123-120 opening night win

Dariq Whitehead couldn’t get untracked in his first game back from his five month rehab, but Jalen Wilson and Noah Clowney carried Long Island to an Opening Night win.

Raptors 905 v Long Island Nets Photo by Evan Yu/NBAE via Getty Images

Jalen Wilson, playing multiple positions with confidence, led the Long Island Nets to an Opening Night win over the Raptors 905 Friday night, scoring 33 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and hitting the dagger in a closely contested contest at Nassau Coliseum. Final score: 123-120.

Wilson, the 51st pick in the June Draft who’s playing on a two-way deal, finished 8-of-18 overall, including 3-of-5 from three. He also hit all eight of his free throws. In a post-game tweet, Wilson expressed his gratitude.

Wilson started the game at Nassau Coliseum with the Nets two 19-year-old first round picks, Noah Clowney and Dariq Whitehead, his first game since the Draft, along with Kennedy Chandler who was the Nets starting point guard in Summer League and Kyler Edwards, a 6’4” shooting guard signed in the off-season.

The two teams went back-and-forth in the first quarter, tying the game twice. The 905 went on a 6-0 lead late and closed the period ahead by three, 31-28, but Long Island’s offense picked in the second quarter, pushing things with an 18-4 run in the opening four minutes. The Raptors affiliate tried to close the gap and came within one point of the Nets, but Long Island’s momentum continued and the Nets shot 54.5% from the field and 40.0% from distance in the second to close the first half ahead by four, 64-60.

Long Island carried its offensive effort over to the third quarter, outscoring the 905 35-30. and ahead by nine, 99-90. The Raptors came back strong in the end, but the ball wound up in Wilson’s hands with 29 seconds left and the score tied at 118. The 6’7” forward drove the lane and put the Nets up by two. Long Island didn’t relinquish the lead the rest of way, helped by some clutch shots and defensive play by Patrick Gardner who scored six of his 11 points in the last 1:25.

Gardner, who grew up five miles from the Coliseum, entered the game late in the fourth after Clowney had fouled out. The 6’10” Alabama product had a strong outing, finishing with 12 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks. Whitehead in his first game since undergoing foot surgery in early June, had five points on 1-of-9 shooting, but had some moments.

While not shooting well, Whitehead put up four assists, one steal and one block in 20 minutes, Chandler who played for the Grizzlies last season then on the Nets Summer League team, recorded 16 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals in 29 minutes.

Armoni Brooks, like Wilson signed to a two-way deal after Summer League, was in Boston with the Brooklyn Nets. Keon Johnson, the 6’5” shooting guard signed to a two-way last week, did not see action after experiencing right ankle soreness.

Raptors 905 forward Mouhamadou Gueye and guard Javon Freeman-Liberty added 26 points each in 34 and 33 minutes, respectively. Raptors two-way guard/forward Ron Harper Jr., a Rutgers product, posted 25 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals in 29 minutes. Raptors 905 5’7” point guard Markquis Nowell notched a double-double with 19 points and 13 assists in 35 minutes.

Long Island will be back at it Saturday when they take on the Greensboro Swarm again at Barclays Center. Game time: 7:00 p.m. ET.