Noah Clowney scored 22 points, grabbed six boards and blocked three shots Friday night, but it wasn’t enough for the Long Island Nets to post its fourth straight win, as the Maine Celtics dropped the Nets, 116-105, in Portland.
Clowney, the 21st pick in the June draft and the fourth youngest player in the NBA at 19, shot 7-of-12 overall, 2-of-7 from deep and didn’t miss at the line, going 4-of-4. The 6’10” Alabama product has become the G League Nets most consistent player over the first four games of the season. In four games, he’s averaging 14.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks.
The Nets had six players in double figures, including the team’s three two-ways: Armoni Brooks with 12, Jalen WIlson with 10 and newly signed 6’5” shooting guard Keon Johnson who had 18, his best game thus far.
Dariq Whitehead, who admitted to our Jordan Greene that he’s still working his way back from off-season foot surgery, had nine.
Two-Way guard JD Davison led the charge for Maine (1-2) with 27 points, four rebounds 12 assists and three steals, making a career-high five threes. Two-Way forward Nathan Knight posted 20 points, 11 rebounds and three assists. DJ Steward added 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists and Boston assignee had 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. Jordan Schakel tallied 13 points and five rebounds.
Both teams fired away without hesitation right from the tip, combining for nine 3-point attempts in the first three minutes of play. Tied 16-16 at the first timeout break, the back-and-forth continued through the first quarter horn, with the score tied at 27. Davison notched seven points and two assists in the opening frame. Though both teams shot below 30% from distance in the first half, neither stopped launching as the pace-and-space shootout continued. Maine got out to a two-possession lead in the second by working the ball inside to Knight, who tallied 11 points and four rebounds on perfect 4-4 shooting in the quarter.
The Nets went a bit cold from the floor for a stretch but eight-straight points from Gates – a former Red Claw more than comfortable shooting in the Expo – woke them up and gave Long Island the lead. Chandler split the defense for a layup in the final seconds to give the Nets a 54-52 halftime lead.
Davison sank a pair of threes to kick off the third. With the game tied at 66, the Nets ripped off an 8-0 run that built the lead to 74-66. Getting the ball into the paint and shying away from threes a bit in favor of paint touches helped Long Island keep the Celtics at bay for much of the quarter. Maine didn’t stay quiet for long, though – an 11-2 run capped off by a buzzer-beating three from Schakel gave the Celtics an 84-83 lead heading into the fourth.
The fourth quarter began the same way as the previous three; Davison creating a great look at the basket, this time for Knight on a pick-and-pop three. A huge and-one dunk in transition and a tip-in layup from Walsh fired up the crowd as the Celtics got out a four-point lead, 92-88. Johnson and Kyler Edwards each nailed a trey to get Long Island back within one, but Davison answered the call yet again. His fifth three of the night gave him 27 points and soon after, Walsh and Steward joined the three party as Maine put the game away for good. The Celtics outscored the Nets 43-24 from the 2:14 mark of the third quarter to the sound of the buzzer to earn Blaine Mueller a hard-fought first victory as head coach.