Final: Windy City Bulls 129, Long Island Nets 114
Nets erase 25-point deficit but stumble in fourth quarter
The Long Island Nets seemed to have left their troubles in the rearview with a scintillating shooting attack against the Windy City Bulls, wiping out a 25-point deficit and pulling ahead by seven points late in the third quarter.
Instead, the Bulls edged back in front with a 10-0 run in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and eventually pulled away for a 129-114 win at NYCB LIVE, home of the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
"I thought the start of the game and the fourth quarter were pretty similar," said Long Island coach Ronald Nored. "They made all the tough plays. Loose balls. Offensive rebounds. We were running around with our heads cut off. They were going wherever they wanted. And I think the score reflected that pretty good."
The two disappointing quarters wrapped around 24 minutes in which the Nets piled up points at a ferocious pace, scoring 77 points over the second and third quarters. It was an explosive turnaround after the Nets scored just 11 points in the first quarter, shooting 13 percent (3-23) from the field and 11 percent (1-9) from 3-point range. In the opening minutes of the second quarter, Long Island trailed 38-13.
A 13-0 run got them back in it, keyed by 3-pointers from Jeremy Senglin, Milton Doyle and Shannon Scott. By halftime they were within 10, trailing 60-50 after Doyle's jumper with 3.4 seconds to go in the half.
"I thought it started with our energy defensively," said Nored. "Jeremy Senglin subbed in and gave us some energy. Yakuba Outtara subbed in and gave us some energy. So did Kendall Gray. Kendall was pretty good all night actually. When those guys gave us some energy, we were able to score a little bit."
A 17-4 run to start the second half put Long Island in the lead, 67-64. James Webb III hit three 3s in the first four minutes, and Isaiah Whitehead and Milton Doyle added one apiece. When Gray dunked back a Webb miss, the Nets had their biggest lead at 84-77.
"I think the biggest thing was we were just trying to drive it, get to the paint, and if they sucked in, kick the ball out," said Nored. "And I thought we did that pretty good in the comeback. When we made that run we were able to get easy shots because of how we were attacking the rim. There's a couple times where Isaiah attacked the rim in that stretch. Milton attacked the rim and we got some layups. It turned into threes because they were helping so much."
But from the Gray dunk, the Bulls outscored the Nets 21-7 in pulling ahead 98-91. The Nets couldn't get a handle on Windy City's Antonio Blakeney, the G League's leading scorer, who had 25 points in the second half to finish with 45. The Bulls piled up 45 points in the fourth quarter alone.
"They were on their heels for the second and third quarter," said Nored. "They played hard in the fourth quarter. Instead of taking the punch, instead of standing up to the punch, we just wilted."
Whitehead led the Nets with 24 points, Doyle had 23 and eight rebounds, and Webb scored 22 while shooting 6-for-7 from 3-point range. The Nets fell to 23-18. They'll host the Bulls again on Sunday afternoon.
"I told our team, as disappointed as I am in us, that was game 41, and we just can't overreact to one loss," said Nored. "It's not the way that we play. We've got to get back to who we are. They feel like they have us now. We've got to dig in and find a way to be tough and play basketball the way that we play basketball. Because for 48 minutes, that wasn't it. We've done a pretty good job the last couple games of playing that way. Hopefully we come back, respond and play the right way."