Nets Falter Against Magic, Drop to No. 8 in East

C

Final: 07/31/2020

L 118 128

The Nets entered Friday in seventh place of the Eastern Conference standings and will exit the day by dropping to eighth. 

Brooklyn’s half-game lead over the Magic was erased by the team’s 128-118 loss in the bubble on Friday that saw Orlando lead by as many as 30 points. The Magic now hold a half-game edge over Brooklyn as the No. 7 team in the East with seven seeding games to go for both squads. 

After both teams knelt during the National Anthem in the fight for peace and equality, the Nets got off to a promising start. Before the game started to fall out of their hands with five minutes to go in the first half, Brooklyn jumped to as large as an eight-point lead in the opening minutes on the back of Jarrett Allen, who started with a quick 10 points. 

Brooklyn was thriving off its ball movement, recording 12 assists on 16 made field goals in the first quarter. 

Both teams had a hot start offensively, but the Magic were able to sustain their production. The team went on a 20-10 run to close the second quarter, bringing its halftime lead to 70-59. 

After out-scoring the Magic 39-36 in the first quarter, the Nets were out-scored by the Magic by a total of 75-43 through the second and third quarters. Brooklyn struggled especially in the third frame, being out-scored 41-23.

While Allen and Caris LeVert got off to hot starts for Brooklyn, the teammates were limited throughout the rest of the contest. The Nets provided an offensive burst in the fourth quarter, though, out-scoring Orlando 36-17 and cutting the deficit to as little as 10. Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, Joe Harris and Tyler Johnson powered the team late–and forced Orlando’s starters to go back in the game–but the push was not enough. 

Beyond obvious defensive struggles, the Nets had a poor showing from the three-point line, going 13-42 from distance. In addition, the team struggled to cut into Orlando’s momentum, recording just four steals. Ultimately, the team looked worn out. 

Jamal Crawford was the lone Net to sit out of the contest due to conditioning. It is unclear if he will be ready to go by Sunday, but he may be able to provide an offensive boost for Brooklyn.

The Nets’ upcoming matchup against the Wizards will be an opportunity for the team to bounce back. The end of Friday’s game provided something to build on, but Jacque Vaughn and Brooklyn’s new-look roster know they have work to do to stay in playoff contention. 

Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot

A-

The stats: 24 MIN, 8-12 FG, 5-8 3FG, 3-4 FT, 4 REB, 1 STL, 22 MIN

TLC struggled offensively through the scrimmages, but he came alive down the stretch against the Magic. 

TLC was Brooklyn’s lone hot hand from three, draining five of his eight attempts and providing momentum on the fastbreak. He was a large part of Brooklyn’s 36-point quarter, though the push was too late. 

If he can continue to make his shots, TLC may become a more regular part of Brooklyn’s rotation. It would be great to see more meaningful minutes from him as he continues to get his shot back. 

Caris LeVert

B-

The stats: 17 PTS, 7-17 FG, 0-4 3FG, 3-4 FT, 2 REB, 7 AST, 1 STL, 4 TO, 28 MIN

Caris LeVert was largely shut down during the game after he registered 13 points in the first half. 

The Magic did a good job of containing LeVert and Allen, to the Nets’ dismay. Allen did help power the offense, contributing seven assists, but countered that with a team-high four turnovers. 

If Brooklyn stays in the playoff picture, the Nets will need LeVert to be consistent both with his offensive contribution and his ball-handling. If LeVert is off the mark in the bubble, it will be difficult for the Nets to compete. 

Jarrett Allen

B-

The stats: 14 PTS, 7-9 FG, 5 REB, 3 AST, 27 MIN

After recording a double-double in all three scrimmages, Jarrett Allen had trouble keeping up on Friday. 

Allen got off to a 5-of-5 start from the field, but after that, he struggled against Nikola Vucevic. Brooklyn ended up out-scoring the Magic 50-46 in the paint but was out-rebounded 42-39.

The Magic’s gameplan worked against Allen. The Nets know Allen can contribute more on both sides of the ball and will need it against the Wizards. 

Joe Harris

B-

The stats: 14 PTS, 6-11 FG, 2-6 3FG, 0-1 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 2 TO, 29 MIN

Joe Harris did not make any large statements, but he provided support across the stat line for Brooklyn.

It is good to see Harris get some three-pointers down, but it seems as if he is still trying to get his legs underneath him. Harris always brings the hustle, but his aggression and stamina may still need more time to develop to keep up in the bubble.

The Nets need more from all their returning players, and having a secret weapon in Harris will go a long way come Sunday. 

Tyler Johnson

C+

The stats: 11 PTS, 2-8 FG, 1-4 3FG, 6-6 FT, 2 REB, 4 AST, 19 MIN

Tyler Johnson’s preparation is starting to show on the court. 

After a few strong scrimmage showings, Johnson was able to contribute both at the free-throw line and with his ball-handling. While his shooting can still use some work, he made good progress by drawing contact and getting his teammates involved while he was on the court. 

Johnson is due to break out during the seeding games, and it will be a welcomed sight for Brooklyn when the time comes. The hope, though, is that it comes sooner rather than later. 

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