The Long Island Nets fall 140-128 to the Wisconsin Herd Sunday afternoon. With their third loss in a row, the Nets continue to struggle to put four complete quarters together. Although they played better than their previous loss, they dealt with the same issue from Saturday’s game against the Blue Coats: short roster.
The acquiring and waiving of players left the Nets shorthanded with only an eight- man rotation. With that said, eight players in back-to-back games is difficult. Not impossible. But tough. Physically tired bodies can often result in short shots, less explosion and decreased overall energy. Even more, mental fatigue leaves players more susceptible to basketball IQ mistakes, such as turnovers or poor defensive rotation, for example.
However, the Nets did not look THAT gassed.
In fact, they started out relatively well in terms of energy…knocking down early shots, sharing the ball, and keeping up with the Herd’s pace. Only down 29-33 at the end of the first, the Nets established their presence in the game.
But the second quarter is where the Herd went off. They exploded, outscoring the Nets 39-22. They thrived in transition, pushing pace and exploiting the Nets defensive mistakes, typically finding an open three. Or contested. Either way, the ball found its way in the basket. The Herd finished with 38 fast break points in comparison to the Nets 8, a bunch of those in the second quarter.
Trailing 21 points at half, the Nets had every reason to let this one go. But they didn’t. They played smarter, not harder. It appeared as though they saw the adversity as an opportunity to showcase their talent, as opposed to an excuse to lose a game. With that said, Long Island slowly but surely chipped away at the lead. Two back-to-back threes by CJ Williams, including a buzzer beater at the end of the third, left the Nets down 13 heading into the fourth. They had the momentum. Showed character and grit. They kept the game interesting to say the least.
Yet, the Herd never lost their cool. Taking the Nets punches in stride, they always found a way to hit back. And they hit back to make it hurt. For instance, newly signed Joe Cremo had a career night for the Nets. Finishing with 16 points and 8 assists, he impacted his team in all areas.
And then…with 6:34 to go, a snatch back MADE three pointer puts Cremo on the bench with a rolled ankle and the Herd with a new highlight clip. It was almost a picture perfect scenario of “breaking someone’s ankle.” Fortunately for Cremo, after retying his shoes he was able to return to play.
Still, the Nets kept fighting.
CJ Williams was feeling it beyond the arc, finishing with 22 points and six made three pointers. His effectiveness helped bring the Nets within nine points with four minutes to go.
Again, the Herd hit back. This time, with Jaylen Adams.
A back door cut down the lane into a one arm posterizing AND ONE dunk.
The crowd, commentators, and (of course) the Herd bench lost their minds. Plays like these really take the air out of teams and the Nets never recovered.
The Herd finished with seven players in double figures, led by Frank Mason who had 28 points, 6-10 from the three, and Dragan Bender with a double double, 25 points and ten rebounds. The Nets also had seven players in double figures. Ash Yacoubou had a double double, 22 points and 13 rebounds, while CJ Williams added 22 points. John Egbunu, who’s been a consistent force for the Nets, also played well with 18 points and eight rebounds.
Of course the game of basketball doesn’t count moral victories. However, considering all of the adversity, Long Island played a great game. They handled the Herd pace for the most part, made a season high 23 three points, and competed literally until the last seconds. Hopefully the positive energy from this game translates into a win for their next game when they take on Grand Rapids January 8th.