Following a tough loss in San Antonio on Thursday night, the Brooklyn Nets would head to Orlando to face the Magic, a team they’d beaten twice in the last 30 days. During the dusking hours of Groundhog Day, the Nets would try to relive and repeat the same outcome they left Orlando with two weeks ago when they came all the way back from a 21-point deficit to beat the Magic.
The Nets came out of the gates firing, scoring five points less than a minute into the game. However, beyond that hot start, it felt like the Nets were just never able to get into a rhythm for most of the first quarter. Through a mix of stagnant ball movement, sloppy turnovers, and shots simply just not falling, the Nets would watch the Magic work to capture a thirteen point lead as late as 1:59 in the first quarter. However, in the final two minutes, it became the D’Angelo Russell show. Russell recorded six points in the last two minutes — and once you add in a nice running jumper from DeMarre Carroll, the Nets were able to cut the Magic lead down to just five points at the end of the first.
The Magic would open the second quarter holding a 26-21 advantage over the Nets. The Nets would continue to scratch and claw to try and cut the lead down and hop in front of the Magic, but the Magic were able to match just about everything the Nets threw at them. The next Nets run was fueled by, once again, Russell. While the Nets were able to tie the game at 35-35, the Magic wouldn’t let the score stay evened up for too long as they started to pull away from the Nets once again and regained the five-point lead they entered the quarter with. The Nets would need an answer if they wanted to head to the halftime break with the lead, and they got just that from Shabazz Napier. The Nets’ backup guard was a huge spark for the Nets offense that had gone cold, quickly scoring nine points in the final two and a half minutes, including a three-pointer as time expired to give the Nets a 48-44 lead at the break.
Heading into the second half, the Nets were in good shape after cutting the once 13-point lead down completely and even holding a four-point lead of their own. Unfortunately, that lead did not last for long as the Nets had trouble containing the Magic defensively, more specifically the Magic big men Aaron Gordon and All-Star Nikola Vucevic. Theo Pinson provided more good minutes in his extended opportunity, coming off the bench and scoring five quick points — perhaps just delaying the obvious inevitable. But the Magic kept their composure and fought off the run by the Nets to head into the fourth with a 78-70 lead
The Magic kept their foot on the Nets’ throat in the fourth quarter and there wasn’t much to like about the visitor’s performance aside from what Russell was doing. The Magic kept taking advantage of the Nets’ turnovers and, in total, had 20 points on their opponent’s sloppy turnovers. Sadly, the Nets just had no answer for what Wes Iwundu or the aforementioned Vucevic were able to do down the stretch — an ultimate disappointment. As a result, Brooklyn suffered a difficult 13-point loss to the Orlando Magic — but back to the drawing board on Monday.
D’Angelo Russell Point Guard
23 PTS, 8-17 FG, 3-8 3PT, 4-4 FT, 6 AST, 1 BLK, 5 TO, 32 MIN
Yesterday, D’Angelo Russell was officially named an All-Star reserve and the replacement for the injured Victor Oladipo. Tonight, he showed exactly why he was chosen among the NBA’s best Eastern Conference players to play in the most-watched exhibition game in all of sports.
In 32 minutes of action, Russell dropped 23 points thanks to a piping-hot start in which he scored 15 points in just 16 minutes of action.
Rodions Kurucs Power Forward
5 PTS, 2-12 FG, 1-3 3PT, 7 REB, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 20 MIN
Rodions Kurucs has really struggled shooting the basketball since the calendar turned to 2019 and tonight was no different.
‘Rodi’ shot 2-for-12 from the floor and continued his rookie-wall shooting woes against Orlando.
In typical Kurucs fashion, he remained aggressive despite his poor shooting and his hard work showed on defense and when it came to rebounding the basketball.
This shooting slump for Kurucs will most likely be remembered as a bump in the road rather than a downfall of the second-rounder’s rookie season — but it has been a difficult stretch to watch.
Either way, with Kristaps Porzingis’ ousting this week, there’s no longer a debate: Kurucs is New York’s best Latvian. Case closed.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
6 PTS, 3-12 FG, 0-5 3PT, 1 REB, 4 AST, 2 TO, 28 MIN
Last season, Nets’ commentator Ryan Ruocco described Joe Harris as one of, if not the most, consistent players on the team’s roster — sadly, tonight, the bearded sharpshooter did not give an example of that.
Harris had an uncharacteristically poor performance shooting the ball against the Magic — even worse, it came just hours after he was named a contestant in the NBA’s three-point contest.
Harris is a reliable option and someone who can help fill the scoring void now lost by Spencer Dinwiddie, so he’ll need to move past it with tough games against the Bucks, Nuggets, and Raptors on the horizon.
Ed Davis Center
11 PTS, 4-8 FG, 3-4 FT 16 REB, 3 AST, 20 MIN
Despite the outcome of the game, Ed Davis played a huge role in keeping the Nets competitive despite the teams’ poor performance offensively.
Davis was able to use his huge frame and aggressiveness to bully the Magic big men when given the chance and pulled down 16 rebounds in the process.
Davis was a huge help to weather the storm against big men like LaMarcus Aldridge and Nikola Vucevic during the last two games, and they’ll need him to do the same Monday night if they wanna have a chance against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Shabazz Napier Point Guard
15 PTS, 5-13 FG, 3-9 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO, 25 MIN
Shabazz Napier has really stepped up and lessened the blow the Nets sustained without Dinwiddie off the bench. Again, Napier was able to give the Nets a spark at the end of the first half when he scored nine fast points to give them one of their only slim leads of the night.
However, despite his valiant effort, the Nets would, of course, drop this game and there was nothing more Napier could do aside from making more of his three-pointers.
Theo Pinson Small Forward
8 PTS, 3-7 FG, 2-5 3PT, 2-2 FT, 2 REB, 1 STL, 2 TO, 11 MIN
Theo Pinson has been such a pleasant surprise for the Nets’ young roster. Pinson, who is still on a two-way contract, had a 30-point double-double for the Long Island Nets yesterday before making the most of his opportunity tonight.
Similarly to when he saw action against the Knicks, Pinson came in and provided the Nets with a much-needed spark. Unsimilarly, it really didn’t mean much as the Magic were able to answer right back.
Like Napier, the Nets can really use all the help they can get in the backcourt, so if Pinson can do this more often — then Brooklyn may be able to stay afloat in the absence of Spencer Dinwiddie.