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.
There are enough ways to write the runs the Brooklyn Nets extended the rest of the game. 13-0. 20-2. 32-8. 39-12. It’s weird just to think about. The Nets don’t do things like this. Or, at least, haven’t. By the end of it, the Nets had dropped 57 points to the Magic’s 25 after the lead shrunk to seven in those final 22 minutes of play.
Encouragingly, the Nets had multiple catalysts. Deron Williams got the offense going early in the run, initiating the play that ended in a Joe Johnson three, hitting a jumper, finding Bogans for a layup, hitting a runner, and feeding Lopez for his 14th and final points — all in about a three-minute span. By the time that dust settled, the lead was 18, and the Nets weren’t looking back. Joe Johnson began finding his touch. C.J. Watson continued to show off his. Kris Humphries played under 20 minutes and still pulled down eight rebounds, in a game where Brook Lopez played under 24 minutes and pulled down an even 10.
Every Brooklyn Nets player that hit the floor notched at least one field goal, and 11 players scored at least five points. Tornike Shengelia dunked on a fool. TyShawn Taylor got swatted in the lane and kept going back. Andray Blatche led the team in scoring. Blatche, in a 39-point blowout, as the Nets’ team leader in points. (He also played more time than Humphries or Lopez, as is the nature of a blowout, but still — Blatche led the team in points!)
Perhaps no player was more encouraging than the aforementioned Lopez. I won’t get too wrapped up in the “Orlando didn’t want him” trope, however true it is. But even against a poor, inexperienced frontline like Orlando’s (haven’t been able to say that in a while), 14 efficient points, 10 rebounds, and three blocked shots in under half the game’s time is a fantastic output. The Nets out-rebounded the Magic 48-35, and Lopez’s rebound percentage — the percentage of rebounds grabbed by a player when he was in the game — was the highest in the game of anybody not named Mirza Teletovic (who played 6 1/2 minutes). He grabbed boards out of Kris Humphries’ paws, boxed out consistently, and attacked the glass with ferocity. He scored through contact as he’s always been able to, and swatted shots in the lane as he hasn’t. It was wildly encouraging at worst.
Now, the momentum begins. After a rough start, the Brooklyn Nets found an offensive synergy with defensive principles. Tomorrow afternoon, they have the same chance for domination as they did last night, against the same team, as the beginning of a three-game homestand. Every game is its own monster, and the Nets probably won’t beat Orlando by 39 again. But the opportunity is there, the offense coming together, the defense not abhorrent. They’re better than Orlando, easily. They should leave tomorrow with another victory.