Brooklyn dwindles 19-point lead in loss to Magic

B

Final: 02/24/2020

L 113 115

The Nets know they do not want the No. 8 seed in the East, but that may just be the team’s fate. 

After holding as large as a 19-point lead in the third quarter, Brooklyn fell to the Orlando Magic at home in a heartbreaker on Monday night. The Nets had chances to retake the lead down the stretch and record their sixth straight home victory, but two three-pointers by Taurean Prince were off the mark and put the game out of reach. 

A balanced scoring effort and strong defensive stretch from Brooklyn was rendered meaningless after the Magic came out firing in the second half. An Orlando team that has been sliding found confidence in a shooting surge led by Terrence Ross and Aaron Gordon.

The Magic found their three-point stroke after a cold 3-of-18 first-half performance. Orlando was held to just 41-first half points on 35.6 percent shooting, but was not held quiet for long. 

Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie had Brooklyn’s offense humming, but the strong defensive effort that gave the Nets their success seemed to have disappeared in the second half. The Magic nearly doubled their first-half score in the third quarter alone, out-scoring Brooklyn 40-33 in the frame and 74-59 in the second half. 

Orlando’s offensive surge was a surprise to a Brooklyn team that had been making its threes all game and suddenly could not find its groove. The Magic grew its lead to as large as four points in the second half, but the Nets answered back, regaining the lead briefly in the fourth.

One of the most entertaining parts of the game was a three-point barrage in the fourth quarter, led by Ross, LeVert and Joe Harris. While the Nets were able to answer, Gordon got involved and hit the dagger three to cap off Orlando’s 10 made in the second half.

Jarrett Allen played a large part on defense down the stretch, but Brooklyn failed to take advantage of those opportunities and were out-scored in the paint 56-54. Two three-point attempts by Prince could have pulled the Nets ahead one final time, but neither were great looks.

With the loss, the Magic now stand at 1.5 games back from Brooklyn in the standings. The teams will surely be fighting for the seventh seed through the rest of the season, as the Nets’ place is not safe.

Dinwiddie will tell you, no one wants to play Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. So what does this loss mean for Brooklyn?

If they do not start putting together consistent efforts, the matchup of doom may just be theirs. 

Jarrett Allen

A

The stats: 16 PTS, 8-8 FG, 0-1 FT, 11 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2 BLK, 26 MIN

Let’s start with the good news — Jarrett Allen put up his 25th double-double of the season, passing his career-high of 24 from last season. He was great down the stretch, countering Nikola Vucevic twice (!) and keeping the Nets alive. 

Allen was perfect from the field in a game where Brooklyn attacked the paint early. He was productive in his time on the court, but Brooklyn could not capitalize on it. 

Taurean Prince

C+

The stats: 10 PTS, 3-10 FG, 1-3 3PT, 3-4 FT, 6 REB, 1 STL, 2 TO, 28 MIN

Taurean Prince had a great start to the game, draining a catch-and-shoot three and setting the Nets’ rhythm. Unfortunately for his team, neither of his game-ending looks were of similar form. 

Prince brought an important presence defensively, but the Nets continue to struggle in finding the correct end-of-game options. Prince got two big looks — the second after the Magic tossed the ball out of bounds — and missed both. 

Those shots were not the sole reasons Brooklyn lost the game, but a made shot would have blown the roof off Barclays Center and went a long way in the standings. 

Joe Harris

A-

The stats: 12 PTS, 5-10 FG, 2-3 3PT, 6 REB, 2 AST, 2 TO, 30 MIN

We are all for Joe Harris fist-pumps. The Nets could have used more of them. 

Harris came up down the stretch, but Orlando seemed to always have the extra shot. It was clear that Harris and Brooklyn were locked in when the teams were trading three-pointers, but the home team could not turn that intensity into a victory. 

Until next time,

Caris LeVert

B+

The stats: 19 PTS, 8-21 FG, 3-6 3PT, 0-1 FT, 5 REB, 8 AST, 1 STL, 4 TO, 34 MIN

Caris LeVert did a bit of everything for Brooklyn and set a powerful tone early. 

LeVert was not afraid to attack the lane, but often Vucevic gave trouble defensively. Back-to-back threes from LeVert in the fourth quarter gave Brooklyn life, but the Magic had the extra edge. 

There are times that feel like the Nets are a well-oiled machine with LeVert. Other times, there is room for improvement. Monday night brought a bit of both experiences in Barclays Center. 

Spencer Dinwiddie

A-

The stats: 24 PTS, 9-20 FG, 4-10 3PT, 2-2 FT, 1 REB, 8 AST, 3 TO, 34 MIN

Spencer Dinwiddie continued his recent tear in dishing the ball, now recording 56 assists over his last six games. He also provided bursts of scoring and some of the night’s highlights. 

Dinwiddie was not happy with the loss after the game, and he knows what is at stake for postseason positioning. A loss against the Magic is a setback, but opportunities await to out-pace Orlando to finish the season. 

Brooklyn will just need to show more poise than it did in the second half on Monday. 

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