Monday, December 26, 2016

Westchester Knicks 114 at Long Island Nets 118 (NBA D-League) - December 26, 2016

The NBA D-League is continuing to expand, and this year one of the new clubs is the Long Island Nets, affiliated with Brooklyn. The team will play in the newly renovated Nassau Coliseum beginning next season, but this year they are using the Barclays Center. Because there are so few free dates at this venue, the D-Leaguers usually play weekday afternoons before the parent club has a game, and tickets are not sold to the public for those affairs. However, there are two exceptions: Boxing Day (a holiday in the States this year as Christmas fell on a Sunday) and a Monday night in January. It is rare that a venue is used only twice (at least publicly) for a home team, and this made it a must-see for a stadium collector such as myself. (Yes, I've been to Barclays Center for Nets, Islanders, and NCAA hoops, but each one is a separate entry on the venue count as the experience is different.)

The visitors were the Westchester Knicks in a "Battle of the 'Burbs". Tickets were $17 for general admission at the box office, while courtside seats were $50. Only one side of the stadium is open to fans; the other side is reserved for friends and family and New York Knick Joakim Noah was one of the attendees sitting there.

Only one concession stand was open, and prices were the same as for the big sports ($6.50 for a bottled soda for example) so I just went into the seating bowl, taking a spot about six rows from the floor. Basketball is great to watch from close up, especially when the place is so quiet and you can hear the players and refs clearly. Unfortunately, my crappy phone camera was unable to do any better than the shot below.

There were four officials on the floor instead of the usual three due to a new experiment being run by the NBA. This was the first such game so it was a bit of history, much like the first college game with a 30-second shot clock that I saw a couple of years back. That change was adopted by the NCAA, but if today's game was any indication, three refs are enough as 59 fouls were called, including 20 in the third quarter alone. This made the game quite disjointed, but there were periods of play that were quite entertaining. The Knicks raced out to a 26-11 lead, but the Nets fought back to take a 9-point advantage into the break. Westchester used a 10-1 run late in the third to get close and then kept the pressure on in the fourth, finally taking a 98-97 lead on a three from Jordon Crawford (a 5'6 guard out of Bowling Green). The Nets immediately took the lead back and after Yogi Ferrell (out of Indiana) nailed a three, it was 104-99 for Long Island with 5:27 to go. The Knicks stayed close and had a chance to tie in the waning seconds, but Chasson Randle (Stanford) could not convert a reverse layup and the home team held on for the 118-114 win. Chris McCullough, Brooklyn's first-round pick (29th overall) in 2015 out of Syracuse, led all scorers with 25 points and 11 rebounds.


The team's abbreviation is LIN, fitting as Jeremy Lin plays for Brooklyn.

Their coach is Ronald Nored, a 26-year-old who played for Butler during their run to two consecutive NCAA finals.

D-League ball is one of the best values out there. Sure, it's very unlikely that you are going to see a future superstar, but if you enjoy the game of basketball, this is a great league to follow. There are only 450 NBA players, so you are still getting top quality talent, many of whom played in power conferences. I don't know why the Nets don't just sell tickets to every game here (season ticket holders can get tickets to every game, but not the general public), but I hope that they will get a decent following starting next year on the Island.



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