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Nets bring league-best defence in 4th to beat 905 - Raptors Republic: ESPN TrueHoop Network Blog
G-League

Nets bring league-best defence in 4th to beat 905

The Nets brought out their best defensive game when it mattered most.

Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com

Photo credit: Christian Bonin / TSGphoto.com

Raptors 905 105 vs. Long Island Nets 109 | Box score
Assignees: Alfonzo McKinnie, Malachi Richardson (905). Isaiah Whitehead (Nets).
Two-ways: Malcolm Miller, Lorenzo Brown (905). James Webb III (Nets).

The Raptors 905 fell to their division rival, the Long Island Nets, 109-105 on Wednesday at the Hershey Centre, dropping to 25-17 on the season and gaining some separation from the now 23-17 Nets.

With under 40 seconds remaining, Jerry Stackhouse elected not to call a timeout trailing by two and possession of the ball. They put the ball in Davion Berry’s hands, and he was able to beat his man off the dribble and get to the rim, but as had been the case all fourth quarter, the Nets rim protection proved too tough to beat.

The 905 tried playing the foul game thereafter, but it was all for nought.

“We had enough opportunities,” an irate Stackhouse said after the game. “We had enough chances to make sound basketball plays and we didn’t. That gave them easy opportunities and that resulted in the loss. This is a tough one for us to swallow. This could have easily been a game that we needed to have for tie-breaking purposes and everything so this could be really detrimental if we don’t find a way to tighten this thing up really quick.”

The two teams came into this game as the two highest ranked teams in defensive rating, and they saved the best of it for last. With the 905 carrying an 85-83 lead into the fourth quarter, both teams ramped up the intensity and couldn’t find a way past each other. They combined for just 13 points in the first six minutes of the quarter, before the floodgates were opened by Alfonzo McKinnie.

First, Fuquan Edwin found him off penetration for an open three, before Kaza Keane and McKinnie combined to repeat the trick on their next possession. It was Edwin’s turn to shine after that, scoring a tough two inside and then stealing the inbounds. Though the 905 didn’t get a score there, he came back and hit a three-pointer a couple of possessions later after Long Island extended their lead to three.

While the numbers pointed to a tough, grind out game between the league’s two best defensive teams, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these two teams were involved in another barn burner for three quarters, at least.

After a couple of games where neither team crossed the 100-point mark even once, the Nets and 905 showed the best of their offences in a 125-119 victory for Long Island three weeks ago. After being held to 8-of-30 shooting in the first two contests, there was little the 905 could do to limit Milton Doyle in that contest, who poured in 42 points which included a ridiculous 11-of-15 shooting from behind the three-point line.

“A guy like that, he’s going to get his shots, but you’ve just got to try and make it tough on him,” Stackhouse said before the game. “It was just his night. He was coming off a slump, had six points in the game prior to us. We helped him a little bit by being in the wrong spots. Looking back at that game, we were a step slow everywhere.”

With Lorenzo Brown out for his fifth straight game with an ankle sprain and Malcolm Miller traveling with the parent club to Orlando, head coach Jerry Stackhouse decided to mix things up with the starting lineup.

“We’ll try to utilize our bigs a little more with Malcolm out,” Stackhouse said before the game. “Try to play two bigs together and see how that works out.”

Among the reasons this can work for the 905 is that Thompson is adept at defending the perimeter, and both are capable of helping the team execute from the high post in their halfcourt sets. It also helps that the Nets are among the league’s worst rebounding teams.

Aaron Best and Kaza Keane also returned to the starting five to help ramp up the defensive presence, and the changes proved to be a stroke of genius early. The 905 went on a 9-0 run after the teams exchanged a pair of buckets, sparked by a seemingly life-ending slam by Shevon Thompson over Kamari Murphy.

https://twitter.com/Raptors905/status/969001877156212737

Four turnovers in the next three minutes after the reserves checked in erased that good work, though, and a hot Isaiah Whitehead who was coming off a 52-point effort against the Greensboro Swarm. The game was fairly even for the remainder of the half, although one might argue the 905 deserved more than two for this sweet alley-oop.

Knotted at 58 to start the second half, the Nets got out to a quick 6-0 start as the 905 struggled to execute in the halfcourt. They got a bit of their big-to-big action going thereafter, with Thompson and Meeks hooking each other up on a couple of high-low feeds. Davion Berry was the master thereafter, orchestrating the offense and getting to the basket at will.

The 905 came away with a huge play to end the third quarter after the Nets scored with two seconds remaining. The Long Island coach urged his team to press full court, and with all five players in the 905 half, Fuquan Edwin leaked ahead of the pack. Berry threw a perfect pass the full length of the court which led to an uncontested layup at the buzzer and a two-point lead heading into the final frame.

Notes

  • Assignment notes
    • Alfonzo McKinnie did a nice job on the glass but was fairly anonymous on offense outside of his two big threes. He shot 5-of-15 from the floor outside of those two makes and struggled to finish in the paint. Credit the Nets defense for that, as they made it a good job of staying vertical and showing bodies around the rim.
    • With the 905 having just one game remaining on Saturday before an entire week off, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Lorenzo Brown get Mar. 3 off and have his rest maximized and get himself energized for the final stretch of the season.
  • 905 notes
    • Another solid performance by Davion Berry, who took on the majority of the ball handling duties with Kethan Savage not in use in this one. He had 10 at the half and was relentless in attacking the rim as he finished with 16 points, six assists and four rebounds for the game.
    • Fuquan Edwin also quietly put in some good minutes, scoring 15 points to go along with five assists.
    • Former Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion was in attendance for this one, and was presented with a jersey during the second timeout of the second quarter.

  • While the 905 did exceedingly well to ensure Milton Doyle didn’t have another big night, James Webb III more than picked up the slack. He had 15 at the half and finished with 26 for the game.
  • The 905 now travel to Wisconsin to take on Brandon Jennings and the Herd on Saturday after which they’ll have an entire week off. A friendly reminder that promo code “REPUBLIC905” will get you a discount for home games at this link all season long.

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