Long Island Nets win 7th straight, hold off Mad Ants

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

The surging Long Island Nets held off the Fort Wayne Mad Ants at Nassau Coliseum Wednesday, opening a 3-game lead in the Atlantic with a 128-123 win.

The Long Island Nets lost nearly all of a 22-point lead over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants Wednesday night at Nassau Coliseum before hanging on for their seventh consecutive victory, a 128-123 decision that gives the Nets a three-game lead in the NBA G League’s Atlantic Division.

The Nets (28-14) have seven full games as well as the completion of a suspended game with the Erie BayHawks remaining on their schedule and have opened a 1½-game lead over the Lakeland Magic (27-16) for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

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Meanwhile, they have gained the inside track on the Atlantic title and its automatic playoff berth ahead of the Westchester Knicks and Raptors 905, both 26-18.

Long Island went up 111-89 with 7:38 remaining in the game on Josh Newkirk’s basket, but it’s the NBA G League and everyone makes a run.

Fort Wayne (19-24) made its run, closing to within four points on a dunk by Travin Thibodeaux with 15.8 seconds remaining. But Newkirk split a pair of free throws with 14.9 seconds left and Jordan McLaughlin made two with 4.2 ticks on the clock to ice it for the Nets.

Long Island led 66-58 at the half and held a 96-81 edge entering the fourth quarter.

The Nets shot 50.5 percent (48-for-95) overall, but made just 7-of-25 (28 percent) from 3-point range. They helped themselves with a 25-for-30 (83.3 percent) showing at the foul line and outrebounded the Mad Ants 52-45.

Long Island had 16 turnovers, which Fort Wayne converted into 24 points, while the Nets had just 11 points off 12 miscues by the Mad Ants, who shot just 43.8 percent (49-for-112) overall and hit 10-of-25 (40 percent) from deep.

Alan Williams, on a two-way contract with the parent Brooklyn Nets, paced Long Island with 28 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, but turned the ball over seven times, shooting 12-for-17 from the floor and missing his lone long-range attempt.

Rookie Dzanan Musa, on assignment from Brooklyn, added 20 points, hitting 8-of-19 overall and 3-of-8 from 3. Shannon Scott had six assists and Kamari Murphy had 11 points and two blocks.

Tahjere McCall, on assignment while on a 10-day contract with Brooklyn, finished with 17 points on sizzling 7-of-9 shooting.

Jovan Mooring led the Mad Ants with 28 points and seven assists in 29 minutes off the bench, while Stephan Hicks added 23 points. Thibodeaux finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

They had just one player from their parent Indiana Pacers available, and two-way player Davon Reed went for 16 points, nine rebounds and five assists, but was just 7-for-19 on the night.

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Long Island can clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth with a win Friday at Nassau Coliseum, when they meed the Maine Red Claws (17-24) at 7 p.m. Eastern in a game that can be seen on Facebook Live.