A loss is a loss, but let’s start with a positive: the 905 were more consistent through last night’s game.
At the start of the fourth quarter, the game was tied 83 apiece. Fans brought donations for the Winter Drive, and after a relatively quiet nine points with seven boards and 10 assists through three quarters, Nets guard Chris Chiozza dropped 12 in the fourth, charitably teaching Sauga how an undersized guard drives to the basket. Chiozza finished with 21 points, eight boards, and 13 dimes after Monday’s triple-double.
After Reggie Perry tried to switch onto his former teammate, Chiozza, the latter blew past him with a lay-up to tie the game — that was the start of a 7-0 run.
Long Island had an answer for everything. The 905 got within three points, four times in the final frame. When Obadiah Noel hit a mid-range pull up to get within three, the Nets went on another 7-0 run, ending in an exclamation mark. Chiozza was angry at Gabe Brown for fouling him, and unleashed his wrath with a crossover and drive on Christian Vital. And-1. He hit his free throw and the Nets were up 10 midway in the fourth.
As JD Quirante from Raptors HQ mentioned, Chiozza’s east-west movements on his drives to the basket are extremely firm. Through two games, he’s shown the 905 that he’s got Kyrie-like handles, even though he plays for Long Island.
The 905 inched within one as Vital hit both free throws with 1:43 left in the game.
But it was Chiozza, again, who sliced and diced Vital and Perry with crossovers and got to the hoop. Perry was so pissed, by this point, that he got a technical. It’s become routine for him to throw his hands up in the air every time he disagrees with the whistle (or non-whistle). Chiozza got the and-1 and hit the free throw (but missed the technical), so that put Long Island up four with a minute and 10 seconds left.
An unexpected logo three by Brown put the game within two with 12.5 seconds left, and Donovan Williams’ missed free throw only put Long Island up three, but it was too little, too late. Brown couldn’t bail the 905 out with another miracle triple. Final score: 116-113 for the Nets.
The 905 will hit the road for a two-game road trip starting with a Thursday, December 1st game against the Delaware Blue Coats.
- Kenny Wooten was back, so Perry had some help down low. But the aggregate data doesn’t point to great signs. The two have played together a total 56 minutes, and have a net rating (offensive – defensive rating) of -18.2.
- The 905 were missing Ron Harper and Jeff Dowtin, but still played consistent basketball. Considering the 905 couldn’t close out Monday night to a shorthanded seven-man roster with Harper, last night’s loss was a sign of progress.
- Yesterday was the halfway mark of the Showcase Cup season, excluding the two games that will be played in Sin City. Eight games in, the 905 are now 4-4.
Gabe Brown had a team-high 26 points, shooting 5-for-10 from downtown. Through eight games, he leads the team with most made threes; he’s hit 23-of-52 (44.2%) of them. And as he continues to show, he can drive too.
David Johnson had the best game of the season, finishing with 17 points. He’s mentioned wanting to improve his three-point shooting, and went 2-for-4. After attempting three of them in the first three quarters, he had the confidence to pull it in the fourth, and that’s really important — even though it ended up in a air ball. DJ made a nice floater in the fourth to inch the game within six and had this beauty earlier.
Having only played two minutes with the Raptors last season, it’s easy to forget about Toronto’s 2021 second round pick. He was a two-and-done at Louisville, and is still 21 years old.
Reggie Perry had 25 on 9-for-20 shooting, and 10 boards. That’s another double-double for Perry, and scoring is never a problem for him. In the second quarter, he scored back-to-back on Kavion Pippen in isolation, and went 4-for-4 inside the paint when the game mattered most (he had a beauty of a hook shot). He had a great take inside, and completed the and-1 to inch the game within three points with 2:20 left.
Perry’s battle will continue to be against himself and the whistle. His look of disgust with his hands in the air has become too commonplace, though he did maintain his composure when called for travelling yesterday (he had five turnovers). Also, unfinished layups create easy transition opportunities for the opponent, so he will need to stop waiting for the whistle to bail him out.
There were two major offensive decision-making things I noticed about Perry yesterday. One, he made a great decision to pass to Vital midway through the third with the shot clock winding down. Perry could have hoisted it, but found a better option, which lead to a made three. Two, there was 10.2 seconds left after the 905 took the last timeout. They were down three, and Perry had a brief look — he should have taken that three.
Briefly allow me to revel in my Japanese glory. In the middle of a zero-visibility January winter storm earlier this year, Yuta Watanabe went to Paramount to get some reps in. There was no one in the stands, and after dropping 28 and 10 apologized to Kelsea O’Brien and the limited media in attendance for having eaten up other 905 players’ minutes.
It’s hard to believe the hottest three-point shooter in the world right now was once competing for a final Brooklyn Nets roster spot with RaiQuan Gray (8 points, six rebounds, and five assists tonight) and 5-foot-11 Chris Chiozza. I came to this realization yesterday as the Brooklyn Nets were also in town, and on the same day, Japan pulled an 2-1 upset over Germany in the World Cup.