By Kristian Cuaresma
For the second time in seven days, NetsGC and 76ers GC fought to a split. But this time, the result was of the gut-wrenching variety, putting a damper on NetsGC’s successful week. In last week’s two-game set, Brooklyn and Philadelphia took turns producing convincing wins. This week, NetsGC was six minutes away from consecutive sweeps, only for 76ers GC to put together a vigorous effort on the defensive end to shock everyone watching.
NetsGC’s confidence following its sweep of Jazz Gaming carried over into Thursday night’s first game, with the team successfully executing its defensive gameplan while scoring at a torrid pace. Brooklyn’s frontcourt of Shotz, SlayIsland, and Faiz all contributed on the offensive glass, reeling in numerous second chances that led to points. By the end of the first quarter, NetsGC had the quick start it has desperately been searching for.
On the other end, the NetsGC defense was arguably the best it has been all season, rotating on the perimeter and forcing 76ers GC to a rough shooting night in the first half (4-of-14 from outside). In the paint, SlayIsland held his own, forcing 76ers GC’s OneWildWalnut to miss several attempts. On a later possession, Shotz would poke the ball loose which led to a fast break dunk from Choc, extending NetsGC’s lead to 13 points.
For NetsGC rookie Dante, game one was a coming out party, as he was perfect from the field until the 4:47 mark of the third quarter. In a new role as the secondary lock and the hash sharp, Dante finished with 15 points – a career high – on 75 percent shooting.
Superstar NetsGC point guard Choc used the remainder to score his own season high 39 points with 11 assists. With this performance, Choc has scored 31+ points in five of the last six games. On defense, NetsGC put the clamps on Caliraq, holding him to five points after the rookie averaged 19 points against the defending champion Wizards DG two nights ago.
Outcome: NetsGC win 77-59
Brooklyn has consistently struggled to start strong in game twos, particularly after impressive game one showings, however, the team would begin with a 7-0 run, forcing 76ers GC to call an early timeout. The most alarming difference between both games was how Philadelphia’s role players were able to get their offense going. In the opening game, the trio of Caliraq, UnderRatedGoat and Steez combined for 12 points while shooting 22 percent from deep but by comparison, the same group responded in game two with 24 points on 83 percent from outside.
Midway through the game, three takeovers were activated in successive order from Dre, Choc, and OneWildWalnut, keeping the high-octane action flowing as both teams traded punches. NetsGC’s Faiz – who had entered the game on a perfect shooting streak spanning over eight quarters – finally missed late in the second quarter. Choc would again make his presence felt, leading NetsGC to a 24-13 third quarter, erasing a two-point deficit and turning it into nine-point lead for his squad.
And this is where things took a turn.
After a few stops by the 76ers GC defense, Choc was forced to deal with a cold ring, reducing his ratings and making it more difficult to run his offense. Meanwhile on the other side of the ball, 76ers GC would put together its best quarter of the evening, scoring 24 points in the final frame. Brooklyn’s difficulties quickly snowballed as the team struggled to find a rhythm. Choc was shockingly held to zero points in the quarter and the dream of a second sweep was shattered in dramatic fashion.
Outcome: 76ers GC win 74-67