Long Island Nets hold off Swarm, inch closer to playoff berth

The Long Island Nets held off a furious late charge by the Greensboro Swarm Saturday, winning their 5th straight game with a 115-114 decision.

Dzanan Musa split a pair of free throws with 3.9 seconds remaining Saturday night, giving the Long Island Nets the cushion they needed for a 115-114 win over the Greensboro Swarm at The Fieldhouse in Greensboro, N.C.

The win pushes Long Island (26-14) a bit closer to its first-ever NBA G League playoff berth and dealt a blow to Greensboro’s postseason aspirations at the same time.

The Nets took a two-game lead over both Raptors 905 (25-17) and the Westchester Knicks (26-18) for the Atlantic Division title and automatic playoff berth. Long Island has 10 games remaining, including the completion of a game against the Erie BayHawks that was suspended on Jan. 19.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Nets, who also lead the Lakeland Magic (26-16) by a game for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Swarm (21-21) trail the Magic by five games in the Southeast Division and are a game in back of the Capital City Go-Go (22-20) for the final wild-card spot in the East.

Greensboro got off to a fast start, leading by as much as 13 points in the first quarter, before the Nets began to claw their way back. A big second quarter in which the Nets scored 10 points off seven Swarm turnovers propelled Long Island to a 59-54 lead at intermission.

The Nets went up eight at the end of the third quarter and took their largest lead early in the fourth on a dunk by Jordan McLaughlin 54 seconds into the period, taking a 96-86 lead before having to hold off the Swarm down the stretch.

Devonte’ Graham, on assignment from Greensboro’s parent Charlotte Hornets, hit a mid-range jumper with 2:31 left to cut the Long Island lead to one at 108-107, but back-to-back layups from Theo Pinson and McLaughlin pushed the Nets’ lead back out to five at 112-107.

Okaro White made it a two-possession game with a pair of free throws with eight seconds left before Chinanu Onuaku slammed home a missed 3-pointer by Charlotte two-way player Joe Chealey with 4.1 seconds remaining.

Greensboro took a quick foul with 3.9 seconds on the clock and Musa missed the first of two free throws before making the second to again make it a two-possession game at 115-111. Dwayne Bacon, also on assignment from the Hornets, drained a 3-pointer with 1.4 seconds to go for the final margin.

Long Island won despite a miserable shooting night in which they hit just 38.4 percent (38-for-99) overall and were 12-for-48 (25 percent) from long range. The difference was at the foul line, where the Nets made 27-of-28, with Musa’s late miss the only blemish.

The Nets also outrebounded the Swarm 53-49, with 13 offensive rebounds leading to a 21-12 edge in second-chance points, and Long Island got 20 points off 16 Greensboro turnovers while surrendering only 11 points on its 12 miscues.

Greensboro shot 45.2 percent (42-for-93) overall and was 11-for-30 (36.7 percent) from deep.

Mitch Creek, in his second game back with the team after playing for the Australian national team in FIBA World Cup qualifying, led the Nets with 23 points in 26 minutes off the bench. Pinson, on a two-way contract with the parent Brooklyn Nets, added 21 points.

Alan Williams, the organization’s other two-way player, had 13 rebounds and McLaughlin finished with 13 points, five assists and three steals. White went for 18 points and Kamari Murphy had 14 off the bench. The Long Island reserves outscored Greensboro’s 55-38.

Bacon finished with 27 points for the Swarm, while Chealey added 22 and Graham tossed in 21. Onuaku had 12 rebounds, John Gillon logged 17 points and four assists in just 16 reserve minutes and Zach Smith blocked three shots.

Muas, the 29th overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft and on assignment from Brooklyn, had only six points in 30 minutes, going 2-for-9 overall and 1-for-7 from 3-point range, adding three assists, two rebounds and two steals.

Tahjere McCall, assigned to Long Island after signing a 10-day contract with Brooklyn earlier this week, played 16 minutes and had five points on 1-of-4 shooting, hitting 1-of-3 from deep which recording a rebound and an assist.

Next: 10 best seasons in franchise history

The Nets return home to Nassau Coliseum for their next five games plus the completion of the suspended game with Erie and will host the Canton Charge (17-24), whose five-game winning streak was snapped Saturday in a 117-106 loss at home to the Austin Spurs, on Monday for a 7 p.m. Eastern tip.

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