Playing before a paid crowd of 1,189 at Barclays Center, the Long Island Nets beat the Westchester Knicks, 118-114. It was their fourth win in the last five games.
Once again, Chris McCullough was the difference-maker, scoring 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting (2-of-3 from deep) and grabbing 11 boards in 27 (foul-plagued) minutes. McCullough was sent to Long Island Monday morning and could be returned for the Nets-Hornets game, which starts at 7:30.
In addition to McCullough, who’s been playing a stretch 5, the Nets had four other players in double-figures: Trahson Burrell had 17 points, nine rebounds and three assists, Yogi Ferrell 13 points and seven assists. Beau Beech and Dwayne Polee Jr., both finished with 12 points and J.J. Moore chipped in with 11.
With the young Nets up by one with 11 seconds left, the Nets made three out of four foul shots, Burrell hitting 1-of-2 and McCullough did the dagger hitting both of his.
As our SB Nation colleagues over at Ridiculous Upside tweet…
After starting the season 2-11, the Nets have been on a bit of a roll as they currently sit at 6-12. Sneaking closer to a playoff seed. https://t.co/ct4r63zJzU
— Ridiculous Upside (@RidicUpside) December 26, 2016
No D-League expansion team has ever made the playoffs and at this point, it’s still a rough climb. But there’s been progress.
One also has to wonder when the Brooklyn Nets will start giving McCullough minutes on the big team. The regular playing time with Long Island has no doubt helped the 6’10”, 215-pound Syracuse product with his skill development, his rhythm … and his confidence.
He’s now averaging 19.9 points, 8.7 rebounds, shooting 47.9 percent overall and 36.4 from deep.
Long Island led through most of the first three quarters, but the Knicks attempted a comeback in the fourth. Westchester went on an 11-3 run to start the period and took their first lead since the second quarter with 8:05 remaining in the game, 98-97, but Long Island held on for the win, thanks to the late game foul shooting. The Nets shot 32-of-41 from the free-throw line in the victory and edged the Knicks 26-20 in assists on the afternoon.
The game was notable for two other reasons: The NBA used it as a trial run for a four-ref configuration.
Also, the game, billed as the “Battle of the ‘Burbs,” was open to fans, the first one in more than a month. After attendance at the team’s first two home games was disappointing, Nets management closed the next seven games to fans. The next game open to fans will be January 30 vs. the Greensboro Swarm, the Hornets affiliate.
Full game video can be found here.