Magic Halt Nets’ Win Streak as Comeback Attempt Falls Short

D+

Final: 03/19/2021

L 113 – 121

Just when the Magic looked like they had this one in the bag, Brooklyn had something to say.

The Nets’ offense woke up as they started the fourth quarter on a 16-1 run to cut what once was a 19-point deficit to four. Still, the Magic escaped with the 121-113 victory as Brooklyn could not deliver the daggers down the stretch. 

Not Joe Harris, not James Harden, not Jeff Green, not Landry Shamet — Brooklyn’s shooters went cold down the stretch as they clanked three after three. Brooklyn had great looks from distance with opportunities to steal Orlando’s momentum but came up empty almost every time. The Nets got the defensive stops they needed and held the Magic to 18 fourth-quarter points but did not make them pay on the other end.

Brooklyn got itself in a hole early as its defense did little to limit Orlando through the first three quarters. The Magic shot the lights out with 51.2% shooting from the field and a scorching 21-of-40 made shots from distance.

The Nets had a difficult time keeping up with Orlando’s three-point barrage as they struggled from distance themselves, shooting just 10-of-37 from three. Brooklyn kept themselves in the game inside the paint, where they boasted a 50-36 point advantage inside.

Kyrie Irving was the reason Brooklyn was able to stay within striking distance as he scored 36 points through the first three quarters and finished with 43. Harden was largely cold up until the fourth quarter, allowing Irving to operate and take 31 shot attempts on the night.

It was difficult for Brooklyn to overcome a lackluster start followed by a poor third quarter, where the Magic outscored them 39-22. The Nets started to click from both ends to start the fourth as they went on the 16-1 run, but no one could find the bottom of the net after that stretch.  

The Nets took care of the ball with just eight turnovers while they shot 47.3% from the field on the night. The bench played well with 24 total points, led by Bruce Brown (7) and Nic Claxton (7), though no one had a breakout game.

Aaron Gordon was on fire as he scored 38 points, including 7-of-8 shooting from three. Nikola Vucevic also hurt the Nets with his 22-point, 14-rebound and eight-assists game and Evan Fournier added 31 points. 

It was good that the Nets got back into the game after trailing by 19, but it is troubling that they allowed the Magic to score 121 points. Orlando was on a nine-game losing streak and on the second half of a back-to-back leading up to Friday but had almost everything go right against Brooklyn.

The momentum-changing opportunities were there, but the big-time shot just did not come. The Magic did their best Nets impression on offense and were locked in from the start while the Nets were not.

Next up: The Wizards on Sunday. 

Kyrie Irving

A-

The stats: 43 PTS, 19-31 FG, 3-8 3PT, 2-2 FT, 6 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 3 TO, 39 MIN

It was Kyrie’s turn for a 40-point game.

The Nets had Kyrie to thank for being in position at all to make a run in the fourth quarter. Kyrie dazzled with his offense through the first three quarters but, much like his teammates, fell cold through the latter part of the fourth. 

Brooklyn especially needed a big night from Kyrie with Harden struggling from three. He put up an all-around great game, but the Magic had three dominant players in Gordon, Vucevic and Fournier to counter. 

James Harden

C

The stats: 19 PTS, 4-16 FG, 2-9 3PT, 9-12 FT, 4 REB, 9 AST, 2 STL, 3 TO, 34 MIN

James Harden is allowed to have off nights, but the Nets could have used just a regular game from him to get past Orlando.

As always, Harden creates instant highlights with his passes, but his three-point shot continues to be off the mark. This has been a trend for him in the second half of the season, one the Nets hope does not continue.

Harden let Kyrie cook, but Orlando had too many hot shooters for Brooklyn to compete. If Harden — or anyone — drained just one or two timely threes, the result of this could have been different. 

Joe Harris

C+

The stats: 16 PTS, 5-14 FG, 3-12 3PT, 3-3 FT, 6 REB, 4 AST, 1 STL, 1 TO, 32 MIN

Joe may have never missed as many threes as he did down the stretch against Orlando.

Joe was red-hot to start the game and was in-sync with Harden and Kyrie, but he just could not get the big shot to drop. Joe got quite a few looks down the stretch to cut the deficit from four points to one, but he could not find the bottom of the net.

A cold stretch like that may never happen to Joe again, but his teammates did not help to bail him out, either. The Nets rely on Joe to make shots in those situations — he was a team-high plus-11 on the night, but he will likely be getting plenty of shots up before Sunday’s game to make sure he gets back on track. 

DeAndre Jordan

C

The stats: 8 PTS, 4-5 FG, 6 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 23 MIN

DJ had another generic night — nothing spectacular while splitting more time with Claxton.

He had some good moments under the rim and grabbed three offensive boards, which are always helpful. Still, he struggled against the Magic’s size as they were able to stretch the floor. 

The Nets could have used another notch up from DJ. That is not expected of him, but at least he put some points on the board as others struggled. 

Bruce Brown

B-

The stats: 7 PTS, 3-6 FG, 1-2 FT, 7 REB, 2 AST, 1 BLK, 24 MIN

Bruce put up some productive minutes off the bench.

Bruce helped the Nets on their 16-1 run as they cut the deficit to as little as four. His defense kept the Magic’s sharpshooters at bay to help give Brooklyn a chance. 

Bruce helped to add some valuable offensive boards as well. It ultimately was not enough as the offense fell short, but he helped put up a fight.