MAINE CELTICS IMPROVE TO 3-0 WITH COMEBACK WIN OVER NETS
Šamanić Leads Celtics with 30 Points
UNIONDALE, N.Y. – The Maine Celtics, presented by Unum, overcame a slow start to the second half to win a back-and-forth game over the Long Island Nets, 115-104.
Maine improved to 3-0 on the season with its first road win of the year. The Celtics were led by Luka Šamanić, who finished with 30 points on 12-18 shooting, including critical buckets down the stretch, to go with 11 rebounds. Two-Way Player Mfiondu Kabengele scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half, while Denzel Valentine recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards. Two-Way Player JD Davison finished with 15 points, six rebounds, and seven assists in the win. Reggie Kissoonlal, making his season debut, led the bench with 11 points.
Jordan Bowden led Long Island (0-3) with 29 points, six rebounds and three assists, making five three-pointers. Alondes Williams added 18 points, six rebounds and four assists. Raiquan Gray stuffed the stat sheet with 17 points, five rebounds, four assists and six steals while former Red Claw Kaiser Gates put up 16 points and seven boards. Donovan Williams had 13 points and three rebounds.
The game began with Kabengele flushing home a pair of put-back dunks off offensive rebounds, helping Maine assert themselves on the glass early. The Celtics took the lead, 8-7, behind Kabengele and Davison’s attack-oriented offense, with Kabengele patrolling the interior defensively. The second unit came in and helped Maine stretch the lead to two possessions, leading 17-13 with just under five minutes remaining and holding a four-point lead until the end of the first, after which the Celtics led 28-24. Kabengele had 13 points in the opening quarter.
Long Island went on an 8-0 run to start the second quarter, giving the Nets a 32-28 lead before Kabengele put an end to the charge. Eric Demers checked in and made his season debut early in the second as the two squads alternated runs and momentum swings. Davison dumped one off to Shayok for a transition dunk to tie it at 32 before Davison canned a three to cap off a 7-0 run and help Maine climb back into the lead. Reginald Kissoonlal II made his G League debut with about four minutes remaining in the back-and-forth first half in which neither team was able to separate. Bowden’s pull-up three gave the Nets a brief lead, 44-43, and gave himself 22 points in the first half alone. Kissoonlal recorded his first career points and a dunk from Šamanić in the final seconds gave Maine a 52-48 lead at the break. Maine shot 40 percent (20-47) from the field, 20 percent (4-23) from deep and 60 percent (5-8) from the line in the first half. Long Island shot 30 percent (14-52) from the field, 30 percent (5-16) from distance and 90 percent (8-9) from the stripe.
Turnovers and inconsistent shooting plagued Maine all afternoon and were the main factors behind a 16-0 Nets run to open the second half, giving Long Island a 64-52 lead three minutes in. Šamanić spun off his man and laid it in to halt the run, and Davison buried a pull-up triple to get the Celtics back within single digits. Maine then ripped off a 17-5 run themselves to tie the game, 69-69, with the second unit providing a needed burst of energy. Valentine made a three and Shayok converted a 1-for-2 free throw to put the Celtics up seven before costly turnovers led to easy buckets for the Nets, helping them cut their deficit to two, 81-79, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Nets quickly took the lead back to start the final frame before Davison’s and-one put Maine back in front. Kissoonlal finished a lob from Davison a few trips later, playing above the rim un his debut and impacting the game on both ends with his length and athleticism. The Celtics shooting picked up in the fourth as well, helping them build a small lead in the final six minutes, 101-96. An 8-2 run from Maine gave them a bigger cushion in crunch time, with Baldwin coming up clutch as both a finisher and passer. Davison’s thunderous slam iced the game in the final minute as the Celtics powered to a victory, 115-104, behind strong play in the closing minutes.