The Long Island Nets had an answer for everything Sunday night.
After watching a 22-point first-half lead trimmed to three with 8:25 left in the third quarter, the Nets kept their composure and went on to a 117-107 victory over the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the first game of the NBA G League finals at Island Federal Credit Union Arena.
“Our pace was better,” Nets coach Will Weaver said. “That’s not always playing a track meet for 94 feet, it’s energy, making a screen or a cut and putting the energy on the ball. That’s hard to guard and we were preaching that all game: nothing slow.”
Dzanan Musa and Thomas Wimbush scored 23 points each for the Nets. Alan Williams added 19 points and 16 rebounds.
Gary Payton II’s three-pointer made it a one-possession game in the third period for the Vipers, but Musa and Wimbush connected on back-to-back jumpers to push the lead back to eight for the Nets.
“We just ballooned it out from there,” Weaver said. “Some of it is shots going in, some shots don’t go in, but I’m really excited to go back and look at the tape and see what we cleaned up.”
Musa hit a jumper with 15.5 seconds left in the third quarter to put the Nets ahead by 16 points. Williams scored nine points in the fourth quarter, including a foul shot with 8:56 left that gave the Nets a 20-point cushion.
“It was all about getting the ball on the block,” Williams said. “I think our ball movement and our unselfish basketball was really key.”
The Nets played at Island Federal Credit Union Arena for the first time this season because of a scheduling conflict at NYCB Live’s Nassau Coliseum, their usual home court. It didn’t seem to bother them, and they hope to wrap up the championship Tuesday at Bert Ogden Arena in Edinburg, Texas.
“It’s put us in a position where now if we play well, we can go win a championship,” Weaver said. “We’ve been preparing all year.”