Check out the results from your grading of Monday night's 97-77 Brooklyn Nets victory over the Orlando Magic after the jump... MORE →
Gerald "Crash" Wallace, normally known for hitting the floor with relative ease and consistency, did not go through his regular hardwood-bashing on this layup, thanks to a kind Glen Davis: Davis caught Crash in air with a tender bear hug and lowered him gently to the floor.
I love the NBA.
Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Johnson breaks Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick down just a bit off the dribble, gets him in a post-up to draw in the defense, then hits Brook Lopez with a perfect feed for an open dunk. It was the second possession in a row Johnson hit Lopez for an open dunk. Watch:
Joining me to talk tonight's Nets-Magic matchup is Noam Schiller, contributor to ESPN TrueHoop Orlando Magic affiliate blog Magic Basketball. I don't know many folks that watch more basketball or know the game more intimately than Noam, and if you're a hoops fan he's definitely worth your follow and read.
We're going, as per usual, in one-on-one style: I've asked Noam three questions that have piqued my curiosity about the Orlando Magic, and in turned he's asked me three questions on your Brooklyn Nets.
Noam on the Orlando Magic
Devin: This is the third matchup between Orlando and Brooklyn -- one ugly blowout, one ugly close win. Should we expect anything not ugly tonight?
Noam: Well,... MORE →
BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- I think the adage goes, "ugly wins beat pretty losses." The Nets did their best to test that adage Sunday afternoon, winning an 82-74 slogger at home against the Orlando Magic, starting the ¡first! Brooklyn Nets winning streak in Brooklyn Nets history.
In a game they should've won by at least twice the final margin, the Nets are glad to take the victory, however problematic the process. "We're happy with the win, but I don't think we're happy with how we played in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter," Deron Williams noted postgame. "Even though we get up 20, it doesn't mean we can lose our aggressiveness."
They did. It was a tale of two game sections -- the first quarter, in which the Brooklyn Nets overpowered the hapless Magic, nearly doubled their shooting percentage (56.5% to 29.2%), dished 11 assists on 13 field goals, C.J. Watson scored six points in about one second after hitting a three, thieving an inbounds pass, and hitting an and-one layup, and left the quarter with a comfortable 35-17 lead.
The game's remainder proved a stark contrast to that first quarter. After jumping out with that 35-point barrage and eighteen-point lead, the Nets scored just 47 points in the final three periods. What had worked in the first quarter -- multiple screens leading to open shots -- seemed abandoned from then on. The Nets' offense turned stagnant in worrisome ways, swinging from one isolation to the next as if guys were taking turns going one-on-five. Even pick-and-rolls/pops turned into isolations, as the screen's effect was rendered useless as the Nets waited… and waited… and turned every play into "I'll get mine." They didn't, and nearly lost the lead for it.
After a 39-point drubbing in Florida, tonight's contest proved a stunningly polar opposite to Friday night's conclusion. On Friday, the Brooklyn Nets allowed Orlando to roam within striking distance before Marie Antoinette'ing their defense to the tune of 57 points in 22 minutes. Tonight, they brought Orlando within striking distance and slogged, never taking full control of the game while never fully relinquishing their hold on it. In the final 17:50, the lead ebbed effortlessly from five to fifteen points, never quite taking the leap to blowout but never quite allowing the Magic to truly make it interesting.
That isn't to say that an ugly game didn't allow some beauty. Kris Humphries attacked the glass relentlessly to the point of absurdity, finishing with 21 hard-earned rebounds and beating the entire Orlando Magic team in offensive rebounding for a long stretch of the game. Brook Lopez, though he finished with an unacceptable seven turnovers and allowed Glen Davis to abuse him at times, did score a team-high 20 points and passed with a previously unseen vision. The Nets did function with a sinister sync in the first quarter, as Lopez, Williams, Humphries, and Watson -- the team's "core four" without Gerald Wallace playing and Joe Johnson clicking -- contributed their multivariant talents to a victorious cause. Jerry Stackhouse hit another three, proving that mere mortality cannot contain Jerry Stackhouse.
So ugliness forgotten. For now, the Brooklyn Nets have won two straight, have a 3-2, and have two more games at home before their ¡first! west coast trip. Both are winnable, if not difficult, matchups, particularly balanced on the status of Gerald Wallace's ankle. The Cleveland Cavaliers are a better team than the Nets just disposed of in back-to-back fashion and the Boston Celtics are perhaps the best non-Heat team in the conference. Brooklyn has now won small, won big, and won ugly. The next step is turning winning into routine.
After Friday's 107-68 shellacking in Orlando (the good kind!), the Brooklyn Nets finish off the second part of their new franchise's first home-and-home against the Orlando Magic today at 3 P.M.
ORLANDO, FL. -- That's about as well as you can follow up a blowout loss, no?
Fresh off their trip mid-collision course in the path of Flying Death Machine Miami Heat, the Brooklyn Nets mustered some combination of taking out their 1-2 frustrations and decimating an inferior team two nights later, embarrassing the Orlando Magic to the tune of 107-68. Even without Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks (Josh Childress was a late addition), the Nets dominated Orlando, somehow leading from start to finish that abused Josh McRoberts as a pick-and-roll ballhandler ("used" is not a proper term here). The Magic scored fewer points in four quarters than the Nets did in three, and the victory snapped a ten-game losing streak for NJ/Brooklyn in Orlando.
This was a game of brief Orlando Magic runs and long, stretched-out Brooklyn Nets ones. The Nets attacked early with Brook Lopez, finding him inside and running through him in the post multiple times. Lopez scored, drew fouls, scored, drew fouls, and helped the Nets rocket to an early lead. As Lopez was the sole offensive factor in the first quarter, the Magic tightened the lead behind some open shots and quick midrange jumpers, and the blowout was hardly on after one.
It was the second quarter when the writing began appearing on the wall. With most of their starters catching a breath, Brooklyn rode unlikely heroes Andray Blatche and Jerry Stackhouse to a laughable second-quarter lead. Blatche wheeled and dealed, snuck and ducked, upped and undered opponents to death, while Stackhouse found himself free in the corner for three open three-pointers. It was the best of times, as said by a novel penned in Stackhouse's youth.
Despite a fourteen-point lead at the half, the Magic had one final push in them. Josh McRoberts and Nikola Vucevic both scored off Glen Davis dishes, and soon after E'Twaun Moore buried a deep three. Just like that, the lead was 50-43, and the game was on again.
That's when things really started getting silly.... MORE →
TV: Tonight's game will be broadcast on YES.
Starters: The Nets will start the same lineup for the third straight game with Gerald Wallace out, starting Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez. The Magic are expected to start Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, and Nikola Vucevic, with the other two spots unclear. Jameer Nelson said he's not sure if he will play, but Orlando Pinstriped Post has said he is out.
Key reserves: For the Nets, both Josh Childress and MarShon Brooks are out nursing ankle injuries, putting added pressure on Tornike Shengelia and even Jerry Stackhouse! The Nets have also given significant minutes to C.J. Watson (great), Reggie Evans (spotty), and Andray Blatche (I'm... rooting for him). The Magic's backups include supershooter J.J. Redick, rookie Andrew Nicholson, Ish Smith, and Josh McRoberts.
Season standings: The Nets are 1-2, having dropped two straight to Minnesota and Miami, respectively. The Orlando Magic are 2-2 but have also dropped two straight, one to Chicago and another to Minnesota.
How could you be: MO HARKLESS!?
The under/overlying story: Brook Lopez was the major asset the Nets offered to the Orlando Magic in their pursuit of Dwight Howard. It failed, mostly because Orlando saw Lopez as an unworthy, overpaid player. Can Lopez PROVE THE DOUBTERS WRONG!?
The Nets will win if... Their pick-and-roll offense starts to click, Joe Johnson starts quietly abusing opponents, and Lopez takes advantage of an inexperienced Orlando frontcourt and an opportunity to prove to Orlando that he was a worthy asset they lost out on.
The Magic will win if... Glen Davis goes SuperBaby, Lopez presses/wilts/can't take his mind off Disneyworld, the defense continues to struggle without Gerald Wallace, and the general lack of depth on the wings leaves the Nets without the requisite 48-minute firepower on both ends.
In 2K13: Nets win, 109-97. Even without Childress and Wallace, the Nets take the Magic down behind 26 points & 11 assists from Deron Williams. Brook Lopez added 22 points and Joe Johnson 19, as the Nets shot 54% from the field en route to the victory. Kris Humphries added 15 rebounds. J.J. Redick led the Magic with 18 points.
Nets 2K13 Record: 4-0
2K13 Prediction Record: 1-2