Short-handed Long Island Nets cruise past Vipers in Vegas

Long Island Nets Brooklyn Nets Alan Williams. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images)
Long Island Nets Brooklyn Nets Alan Williams. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Long Island Nets, down two starters, had no trouble easing past the Rio Grande Valley Vipers 110-100 in the NBA G League Winter Showcase in Las Vegas.

The Long Island Nets opened play in the NBA G League Winter Showcase at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas without two players that had started every game for them this season.

No matter. Jordan McLaughlin scored a career-high 32 points and Alan Williams added 24 points and 14 rebounds as the Nets blew the game open in the third quarter en route to a 110-100 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

Dzanan Musa, the first-round pick of the parent Brooklyn Nets, and Theo Pinson, on a two-way contract with Brooklyn, had started each of Long Island’s first 16 games this season.

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But Musa injured his left shoulder in Sunday’s loss to the Maine Red Claws and is back with Brooklyn for treatment, while Pinson is also with the parent club while it deals with some injury issues.

McLaughlin, the undrafted rookie from USC who was waived by Brooklyn in the preseason before being allocated to Long Island, scored 16 points in each half while also dishing out eight assists and posting a career-high six steals.

The Nets (12-5) forced 22 turnovers from the Vipers (9-9), an affiliate of the Houston Rockets, generating 26 points, while committing only 11 of their own that yielded only six points for RGV.

McLaughlin is now averaging 20.4 points per game in the nine games he’s started since taking the point guard spot from G League veteran Shannon Scott.

Williams, named one of 10 players to watch at the Showcase by Keith Schlosser of, scored nine points in the first quarter as Long Island raced out to an early 30-22 lead.

Williams, also on a two-way deal with Brooklyn, leads the G League in rebounding at 13.9 boards per game, fractionally ahead of Angel Delgado of the Agua Caliente Clippers.

Long Island led 53-42 at the intermission and broke the game open in the third quarter and opening an 81-61 lead at the quarter break.

The Nets took their largest lead of the game early in the fourth quarter on a 3-pointer from Nuni Omot to go up 87-65. The Vipers never got closer than 10 the rest of the way.

Tahjere McCall, who started in place of Musa, finished with 12 points, while Kamari Murphy added 11 points off the bench.

Brandon Sampson paced Rio Grande Valley with 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Vince Edwards and Gary Payton II scored 15 points each, Isaiah Hartenstein added 13 and Michael Frazier dropped in 11.

The Nets did not shoot particularly well, hitting 40.7 percent (37-for-91) overall and 5-for-31 (16.1 percent) from 3-point range. But they had a 31-13 advantage in free throw makes and a 26-6 edge in points off turnovers, while also racking up a 30-14 margin in second-chance points.

The Vipers hit 43.2 percent (38-for-88) overall and were 11-for-35 (31.4 percent) from deep.

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Long Island will play its second and final game of the Winter Showcase on Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern when they take on the Oklahoma City Blue (13-4), who last played Dec. 15 and will play their Showcase games Friday and Saturday.