When J.R. Holden got the job as general manager of the Long Island Nets last year, he called on his two predecessors, Trajan Langdon and Matt Riccardi, for advice. What, he asked, was going to be the key to success in the G League where players come and go. They told him the same thing: find a point guard who’s a leader.
“You have to have a point guard,” Holden said, recounting the advice he got from Langdon and Riccardi “You need the steady point guard.”
So, Holden started calling Chris Chiozza who won a ring with the Warriors last season and had NBA stints with the Nets (twice), Washington and Houston.
“I probably called him 50 times,” Holden recently told NetsDaily and why not? Chiozza certainly qualifies as both a pure point guard and a leader.
“First off, Chiozza is a great young man. He understands the game of basketball, his body, how to read the game, how to get the most out of teammates and other players and he’s never afraid of the moment and when I say the moment, whether it’s making the pass or taking a shot.
“Some guys think a moment is actually making a shot but Chiozza as a point guard understands that the moment might be having a guy come off a screen a little harder. That moment can be, ‘hey, I need you to flair out to the corner because they keep jumping in on me every time I drive.’ He’s so smart and understands the game that when people say ‘coach on the floor,’ he’s the coach on the floor.”
And sometimes, he can simply take over a game, like he did Saturday in suburban Atlanta when he scored 27 points, handed out eight assists, grabbed three boards and hit 7-of-13 3-pointers as Long Island won its 11th straight game, over the College Park Skyhawks, 120-107. It’s the longest winning streak in Nets G League history. They are now 17-3 in the G League regular season and have the league’s best record.
RaiQuan Gray (14 points, 12 rebounds) and Kaiser Gates (14 points, 11 rebounds) pitched in with double-doubles and Jordan Bowden had 21 and seven while Alondes Williams continued his solid play, recording 19 points, three rebounds, two steals and a block.
The G Leaguers were without two-ways David Duke Jr. and Dru Smith as well as Day’Ron Sharpe, all of whom were in Brooklyn for the 76ers game.
The Skyhawks took the advantage early, with one-time Net Langston Galloway knocking down three consecutive triples in the first quarter. College Park kept the ball moving, tallying 10 assists in the quarter for the fifth time this season (3-1 in previous games). The Skyhawks led the entire quarter, but a late Nets run brought the Skyhawks lead to 31-29 to end the quarter.
Cheeze for 3⃣ pic.twitter.com/HFljhaDYQd— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) February 11, 2023
Long Island took its first lead of the game at 40-39 with 8:06 left in the second quarter, but the quarter was a stalemate, 28-28. The Skyhawks finished the first half with a 59-57 lead. Galloway led the way with 12 points (3-3 3FG), while his backcourt partner Brandon Williams tallied 11 points, six assists, and two steals.
The Nets fired off a 7-0 run to begin the third quarter, and kept that momentum for the whole of the quarter, outscoring the Skyhawks 34-23. Chiozza converted on three 3-pointers in the quarter to lead the Nets with 11 points, the third a buzzer beater.
Chiozza at the buzzer pic.twitter.com/pF2aj95A6U— Long Island Nets (@LongIslandNets) February 12, 2023
The Nets maintained their lead and outscored the Skyhawks, 29-25, in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.
The Skyhawks were paced by Galloway, who poured in 24 points (7-11 FG, 4-6 3FG). Galloway nailed at least four three-pointers for the sixth consecutive game. Brandon Williams added 16 points and nine assists while former Long Islander Donovan Williams finished with eight points and four rebounds.
Long Island doesn’t play again until after the All-Star break, going for its 12th straight win on February 22, vs. the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, at Nassau Coliseum. The game will be carried on NBA TV as well as the YES App starting at 7:00 p.m. ET.