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Here's a roundup of last night's Nets festivities.
What happened: The Nets erased a 12-point halftime deficit only to come up just short, losing 115-111 to the Orlando Magic in the Amway Center in Orlando.
Where they stand: The Nets are 43-35 now, and the loss all but solidified the Nets as the fifth seed. They're a full three games out of the division and the fourth seed, meaning that the Nets would have to win outright and the Raptors and Bulls would have to lose outright for the Nets to either win the division or earn home-court advantage.
The bigger question now is who the Nets will play in the playoffs. The Bulls are more likely, but their 102-87 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves means they've got just one more opponent over .500 this season, the 40-38 Charlotte Bobcats. The Toronto Raptors don't have any opponents over .500 remaining.
That Was... A preseason game. I think. The Nets played with zero intent or intensity, chalking up perhaps a schedule loss to a 22-win Orlando Magic team who was playing on three days rest. After a 14-2 run by
the Magic E'Twaun Moore in the second quarter, the Nets had to claw back in the third behind some hot shooting from Mirza Teletovic and Joe Johnson before playing a back-and-forth fourth.
A sweet flip-in and-one by Joe Johnson brought the Nets to within 101-99, and he later hit a tough banked-in jumper to bring them to within one with 31.7 seconds left. After Magic forward Mo Harkless beat Marcus Thornton backdoor with no help defense to put the Magic up 110-107, Johnson hit another one, getting in the paint and putting in a tough one-handed leaner.
But Johnson couldn't make lightning strike again: Magic center Kyle O'Quinn blocked a Johnson three-point attempt that would have tied the game, all but sealing the victory for Orlando.
Game Grades: Read 'em here.
Not Involved: Paul Pierce, Shaun Livingston, and Andray Blatche all sat out for Brooklyn with various injuries. According to reporters after the game, Nets coach Jason Kidd said after the game that he'd consider resting guys now that the Nets are all but locked into the fifth seed, and he may have been doing that already with the inactive trio.
Kev-IN! After a night to rest Tuesday, Garnett returned to the starting lineup for just the second time since missing 19 games with back spasms. For the second straight game, Garnett looked spry, hitting teammates with quick passes off down-screens and hitting two shots in the lane. The first was a nice putback on Deron Williams, and the second was a tough short shot in traffic created by some beautiful ball movement.
More importantly, Garnett was sitting on a Phil Jackson-esque thrown of pillows, dwarfing his teammates on the bench.
— Rod Boone (@rodboone) April 9, 2014
Kyle O'Quinn, not a passer:
O'Quinn somehow fit two shots in before throwing this pass into the fifth row of the Amway Center. An incredible and useless display of strength.
Fearza: J.R. Smith's new NBA record set Sunday of 22 three-point attempts in a single game stayed safe, but it didn't seem that way early: Teletovic fired six three-pointers in under six minutes to start the game, seven if you count the one he shot in rhythm just after stepping out of bounds before the shot. He finished with only 12 three-point attempts.
The Kris Humphries Theory: I have a theory about guys who have a reputation as bad defenders. Guys who can score think they have to exert less energy to score over them, thus they either take low-percentage shots or unnecessary risks when matched up.
Case in point: at one point in the third quarter, after a series of switches, Mirza Teletovic was the one man guarding Jameer Nelson. Nelson tried to perform a fancy dribble move into the paint, lost the ball, and turned it over into Deron Williams's hands.
My Thoughts At The Half: The Nets are playing like they don't care about this game.
Third Quarter: After falling behind 55-43 at the half, the Nets crawled back into game contention behind four three-pointers from Mirza Teletovic and some hot shooting from Joe Johnson. But one late play in the third screwed up Brooklyn's chances: with the Nets down 80-78, Johnson took an open shot with eight seconds left and no shot clock, missing and giving Orlando a chance to bury a three-pointer as time expired. A two-point game became a five-point game in a game that came down to the last few possessions. That's one that'll stick with Johnson.
Mason Plumlee Foul Trouble: Plumlee fouled out with 4:24 left. It was a questionable play, as Magic center Dwayne Dedmon clearly traveled before the foul, but Plumlee had already racked up five fouls and put himself in a position to get kicked out of the game on a loose call. That foul-out led to Andrei Kirilenko playing "center" for the Nets for most of crunch time.
But, At Least Mason Plumlee Did Something Incredible:
Mason Plumlee hit seven of eight shots, all of them within the restricted area, including this Blake Griffin-esque slam off a pretty Andrei Kirilenko feed.
Mike Fratello, Out Of Context: "We're selfish people."
Ian Eagle, Out Of Context: "That must be ecstasy."
I don't know who Marquis Teague is subtweeting:
Wise man once told me 2 get what u wnt u have 2 know what u wnt!!!!
— Marquis Teague (@marquisteague25) April 9, 2014
Next up: After the Florida back-to-back, the Nets travel back home to take on the 34-43 Atlanta Hawks in Brooklyn on Friday. The Hawks are clinging to the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, and with a victory over the Boston Celtics, they now stand two games ahead of the New York Knicks for the eighth seed with four games left on the regular season docket.