Long Island Nets vs. Rio Grande Valley Vipers: Recap
The Long Island Nets lost to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 124-127 on Friday night. Despite fighting their way back from a 22-point deficit, a collective effort by the Vipers proved too much.
A ball game can go one of two ways when a team is down 20
points in the first quarter: a 40 point plus annihilation or a “scratch and
claw” your way back possession by possession. Luckily, the Nets chose the
Entering this matchup, the Vipers were known to shoot the
most three pointers in the G league. With that said, its rational to believe
the Nets defensive plan was to run them off the line. Instead, they allowed the
Vipers to open up the game with two quick, uncontested threes and a 10-2
run. That early confidence translated
into a fast paced three-point feast, resulting in a 42-22 first quarter for the
In the second quarter, the Nets continued to struggle in
finding consistent offensive rhythm, which could be attributed to the Vipers
switching defense. Although the Vipers are not usually known for their outstanding
defense, it created difficulties for the Nets: unable to efficiently exploit
mismatches, missing layups, taking bad shots and shooting 1-8 beyond the arc. However,
this is the game of basketball. There will always be nights where offensively,
teams just don’t click. BUT. If a team is suffering offensively, they must find
a way to get stops. That’s it. There is never an excuse for defense. And that’s
where the Nets struggled.
Again, surprisingly, the second quarter displayed little
adjustment on the defensive end for the Nets even though they knew the Vipers
wanted to shoot threes. They allowed entirely way too many open three point
shots and forced rarely any contested twos. When a player did decide to run a
shooter off the line, it was often followed by an easy two point layup because
of a lack of weak side rotation and on ball discipline. Additionally, the
Vipers exploited the pick and roll situation extremely well, hitting the roller
successfully quite often. Uncontested three point shots and layups for the big
men. How much easier could it get? No wonder the Nets were down 18 at the half.
The Nets FINALLY made a move in the third quarter. Despite
having ZERO fast break points with five minutes left in the third quarter, a
potential “blowout” quickly changed into an interesting ball game after an 11-0
run by the Nets. Much of this was attributed to “Big Bank Hank,” Henry Ellenson,
who finished the game with 33 points and 12 rebounds. Something good almost
always happened when he touched the ball. A three-minute scoring drought for
the Vipers allowed the Nets to cut the deficit to 11 points going into the
We had a ball game ladies and gentlemen. The Nets knew they
had a chance to win and it showed in their energy and effort. Although they
continued to lack execution in scouting defense in limiting the Vipers three
point attempts, they hustled defensively and attacked the rim more in the
fourth than they did all game. They had the Vipers back on their heels.
A corner three by Ellison tied the game with 3:40 left to
go. The Nets had all of the momentum and even took the lead for the fist time
the entire game!
Timely, critical, crucial turnovers allotted the Vipers
extra possessions and extra free-throw attempts in the final minutes. And that
was the ball game. Angel Rodriguez, 26 points and six steals, and Chris
Clemmons, 25 points and six steals, were offensive nightmares for the Nets all
game. Unguardable in the first three quarters, both players closed the game out
with big-time offensive plays. Additionally,
three other players finished in double figures for the Vipers, a solid effort
from the entire team.
It was a valiant effort for the Nets fighting their way back from a 20-point plus deficit. They displayed grit, character, and toughness. It is unfortunate they’ve experienced multiple games in such close grips, but the potential is obvious. Once they are able to put together four quarters, this team can be special.