Losing streaks. Although part of the game, it is a phase no team enjoys going through.
It just sucks. It doesn’t matter the type of loss. Whether it is a 20 point blowout or nail bitting buzzer beater, when an “L” is added to that results column, it stings. Furthermore, when those “L’s” start to pile up, it can really tear a team down. Luckily for the Long Island Nets and Greensboro Swarm, both teams on losing streaks, they faced each other. Meaning…someone had to win.
This matchup was an opportunistic game. It provided the chance for everyone: coaches to motivate their teams, players to find their rhythms, and teams to come together in order to get back on track by remembering that winning feeling.
Well, for one team anyway.
Despite the Nets four game losing streak, the Swarm suffered 11 losses in a row. Thus, it was no surprise they came out the gates gunning.
The Swarm began with a 10-0 to start the first quarter. They even forced five turnovers within the first few minutes. The Swarm players exhumed energy in their offensive aggression and defensive rotations. They demonstrated urgency and displayed their understanding that they needed a win. Bad. A transition series midway through the first summarized the Swam’s dominance: Swarm secured the defensive rebound, point guard pushed the ball up the middle, passed to another player in the paint followed by a touch pass to a slam dunk.
Simple. Quick. Clean.
The Swarm shot 70% from the three and forced seven turnovers by the Nets, leaving them up 40-26.
John Egbunu, a consistent player in points, rebounds, and an all around defensive deterrent, did not dress for the game today for the Nets. However, they Nets did not look fazed. Other players stepped up and they utilized paint touches to make their way back into the game.
Additionally, by being aggressive, the Nets attacked the rim well, often finding the bottom of the Net or getting to the foul line. Then, the Swarm started missing shots and the Nets made them pay. Finding gaps in transition or low post entries, they took their first lead with 2:23 to go in the second quarter. The Nets looked brilliant in the open court. The comfortability, connection, and chemistry between players shined in transition series. The Nets had the talent and athleticism to punish teams in the open court when they used the transition game to their advantage.
The Nets found their most effective scoring in the third quarter. Both teams were able to find solutions offensively which created a lot of “back and forth” action. Thus, it came down to which team was more efficient. Six players scored in double figures for the Nets, including Nicholas Clayton who led the team with a 20 point, 10 rebound double double. Jaylend Hands chipped in 16 points, five steals and six assists. Outscoring the Swarm 39-28, the Nets made it very clear that this game was not over yet.
Besides the first quarter surge by the Swarm, there was never really a time in the game where one team had it in complete control. Especially in the fourth quarter, the Nets and Swarm battled toe to toe. The playmaking of both teams brought fans to their feet and the commentator to screams.
And ones. Dunks. And one dunks.
Players making big plays desperately trying to secure that “W” in the results column.
As the clock wound down in the fourth, the Nets finally put themselves in position to win a game, but the Swarm would not back down. Joe Chealey had a night with 30 points and 5 assists. Kobi Simmons finished with 21 points and Caleb Martin did it all for his team with 17 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists. However, the Nets stayed persistent. They now faced the task of showing their experience as a team: utilizing shot clocks efficiently, consistently making stops and ultimately playing smart.
Oh. And the help of the basketball Gods.
A few unlucky bounces for the Swarm on very makable shots, followed by a great defensive series to a foul and free-throws sealed the deal for the Nets. For the cherry on top, Hands steal led to a goal tending, putting the Nets up ten with 15 seconds to go.
Finally, a “W.”
A 119-109 win over the Greensboro Swarm snaps the four game losing streak for the Long Island Nets. Their next matchup will be against Fort Wayne Thursday night as they look to improve their 7-15 record on the year.