Sunday afternoon’s game against the G League Ignite ‘may not have been counted in the rankings for the Long Island Nets, but there was greater significance to every player on the roster. And they performed, beating the league’s highly touted development team, 111-99.
Craig Randall II went on to score, scoring 22 points out of 9 out of 18. It was the ninth time in 10 games that Randall has lost over 20 points. His improvements as a well-rounded player also showed four rebounds and six assists in 37 minutes. Randall also provided more than one highlight …
He was one of seven Nets to finish in double digits. Josh Gray who was 15 and two Long Island wings, David Duke Jr. and Brandon Rachal, who each scored 14 points. RaiQuan Gray, the Nets’ 59th pick in the 2021 Draft, played one of his best games of the season: 11 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block.
Before the match, coach Adam Caporn said the team didn’t put any extra emphasis on the matchup, but the Nets players were obviously aware of the extra attention given to the game.
Bryce Brown said in advance that “it’s definitely a game we look forward to because it’s an eye-opening game, but a lot of people are looking at it just because Ignite is such a big name team. So now we’re trying to, you know, make a name for ourselves. ”
Caporn is aware of his players’ ambitions, saying, “The nature of the G League is that you always want to perform well individually and move somewhere else – go up.”
After a first half in which neither team saw an advantage of more than one or two possessions, the Nets extended their lead to 10 points at the start of the second half.
The Nets would maintain their double-digit lead throughout the third quarter, entering the fourth with ten points. Taking advantage of the turnovers, Long Island would have exploded for a 9-0 run early in the quarter. Their lead would have risen to 19 points in the last period.
The game also marked the return of the Nets Duke rookie to the G League. After a long stint in Brooklyn that saw him play a major role, including two doubles, when the Nets were short of hand as well as being present in the starting lineup.
Duke Jr. didn’t have a good night of shooting, going 4 for 16, but added nine rebounds – three offensives – and 4 assists.
After the game, he explained that playing with so many new teammates was an adjustment, but he’s just looking to expand his game while he’s with Long Island.
“Definitely an adjustment for sure,” Duke said. “From Brooklyn to Long Island, it’s a different style of play. Also, the spacing is slightly different. Overall, it’s definitely different. ”
Caporn said he and the rest of the Long Island coaching staff took into account Duke’s transition, with the manager saying pre-match:
“We are very closely aligned with [the] Brooklyn [Nets] with our terminology, system. [As for] our plans for [David] Duke and the work we do with him, there may be times when we’re still finding our feet, but our message to him is just to be excited and have fun. If you need to know something, ask. If you need something [else,] talk to your teammates. But our job is to help him fit in. I’m thrilled to have it back. ”
New signing Thon Maker was on hand for the afternoon game in Nassau, but he didn’t play. Caporn, who worked with Maker in Australia, commented positively on the 7’1 ”center before the game.
“Excited about the possibility,” Caporn said. “Thon is a great player and we will see how he goes.”
The 24-year-old is expected to make his G League debut on Tuesday.
The Ignites were led by striker MarJon Beauchamp, who scored 24 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 34 minutes. Ignite center Michael Foster Jr. added 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists in 32 minutes.
The Nets resume their regular season run (G League Ignite matches do not count) on Tuesday against College Park Skyhawks, the Atlanta Hawks’ G League affiliate team. The game will start at 19:00. and it will be delivered ESPN +.
Sean Marks was on hand for the match.