Payback: Nets 97, Magic 88 (GAME GRADES)


The Brooklyn Nets CENTER

Other than the bench messing with a decent lead in the fourth quarter, requiring Kevin Garnett, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson to return to the lineup, the Nets mostly cruised their way to this victory behind their three-point shooting and — get this — second-chance points, turning 14 offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points.

Behind some hot shooting from Williams, Johnson, and Mirza Teletovic, and an engaging effort from Mason Plumlee, the Nets pulled this one off.

Not that there was much doubt, but the win also basically guarantees them the fifth seed, where they’ll play either Chicago or Toronto.

Deron Williams POINT GUARD

Requisite filthy crossover on a couple of occasions, one sick pass to Joe Johnson for a corner three-pointer, four steals to extend his streak to 29 games, and a barrage of three-pointers of his own before resting the fourth quarter.

I see a lot of comments about when Williams “used to be good” on Twitter. He still is. He’s not as good as he once was, but he’s still an excellent playmaker who can shoot and create off the dribble. His mistakes get magnified because of his status, but he’s still very good.

Joe Johnson SHOOTING GUARD

He takes the worst shots that I love to watch.

Paul Pierce POWER FORWARD

Hope his shoulder’s okay.

Kevin Garnett CENTER

Played another short stint well; early turnovers aside, Garnett brought his usual intensity. Scary moment in the first half when he fell on his back after a misguided block attempt, but he returned without incident. Also tried yelling in a shot, because he is Kevin Garnett.

Brook Lopez CENTER

Came onto the court shortly before tipoff to thank the fans for their support this season. Miss U, Brook.

Andray Blatche POWER FORWARD

Returned to the rotation in the first half after missing two games with an illness and a third with a DNP-CD (his first in his Nets history) and immediately tried running point guard. Never change, you beautifully absurd creature of the Nets.

Mirza Teletovic POWER FORWARD

Mason Plumlee CENTER

Look, I know he’s not going to win Rookie of the Year. (Please don’t stop reading there.) But no other rookie is having as positive an impact on a good team this season as Mason Plumlee. Every other rookie getting major minutes has it because of circumstance; the team’s bad and they want to showcase their rookie. Plumlee’s the opposite: the team wanted to stash him in the D-League where he could get minutes, and he played his way into the rotation and cemented a spot.

Plumlee’s legitimately good. He’s 24, and may not get much better than he is today, but he knows what he can do and he’s executing.