The Mad Ants looked like an entirely different team tonight, but the result was another loss – 121-117 to the Long Island Nets.
Naz Mitrou-Long had 26 points and 10 assists to lead the Mad Ants (0-2) in front of 3,370 fans at Memorial Coliseum. Walt Lemon Jr. added 22 points. Stephan Hicks had 21 and 11 rebounds.
Devin Cannady had 23 points and C.J. Williams 20 to lead the Nets in their season opener.
The Mad Ants, who opened their 13th season with a 117-89 loss Friday to the Lakeland Magic at the Coliseum, where they never held a lead, had their first ever “gold out” tonight with all the fans getting T-shirts.
The Mad Ants had nowhere to go but up after that abhorrent first showing and they went way up early with a 9-0 game-opening run that included Mitrou-Long stealing it from John Egbunu and going end-to-end for a layup, and a one-handed Lemon pass to set up a Travin Thibodeaux basket in the paint.
It didn’t last long; a Williams 3-pointer from the corner cut it to 14-13. The Nets took a 30-27 lead when a 3-on-0 fastbreak resulted in an Angel Nunez dunk with 1:55 left in the first quarter.
Mitrou-Long had 13 of Fort Wayne’s first 25 points and the Mad Ants led 35-30 at the end of the first quarter, thanks to a Lemon one-handed runner. Mitrou-Long’s 3 with 4:03 left in the second quarter put the Mad Ants up 50-43.
But the Nets closed the half strong and Jaylen Hands hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 61-59 lead.
The Nets took an 88-79 lead on a Deng Adel putback with 3:06 remaining in the third quarter, but Fort Wayne’s C.J. Wilcox tied it at 94 with a 3-pointer with 8:59 left in the fourth quarter.
Back-to-back Hands baskets quickly put the Nets up 101-94, though. And Egbunu’s putback made it 107-96 with 4:24 left.
A Lemon steal at half court that led to his own layup cut into Long Island’s lead, making it 113-109 with 34 seconds remaining. An Ike Nwamu 3 cut it to 115-112 with 30 seconds left, but the Mad Ants couldn't cut closer.
Notes: Hasheem Thabeet, the Mad Ants’ first-round pick in this year’s G League Draft, and the No. 2 overall pick from the 2009 NBA Draft, made his Fort Wayne debut. He had eight points, six rebounds and four shot blocks in 26 minutes. … D.J. McCall, the former Concordia High School and IUPUI player, still hasn’t made his professional debut with the Mad Ants. He was out with an ankle injury.