18 points from Thomas Robinson was a team-high for the Nets and Brook Lopez didn’t play a single second half minute — so, you’re likely able to conclude how this one proceeded given those few context clues. Thanks to 20 points from Aaron Gordon and a perfect 9-9 from Andrew Nicholson, they helped the Orlando Magic improve to 3-0 against the Nets this season, pummeling them by 34 points in the process.
The Nets on the second night of a back-to-back are typically a very dangerous beast for themselves to defeat. Faced with another game in a different spot in Florida and the late news that Thaddeus Young and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson would sit out for rest, it was hard to get excited about any potential winning prospects. Even without Nikola Vucevic for Orlando, one of Brook Lopez’s arch-enemies, this game was over before it really even got started.
Young’s replacement would be Robinson, who had been inactive for 3 straight games prior and a starter on only one other occasion this season. Although he largely contributed to Brooklyn’s 6-7 start from the floor (4/3/1/1/1 in 9 first quarter minutes), the athletic pace of Victor Oladipo, Elfrid Payton, and Aaron Gordon (who still thinks every game is the Dunk Contest) eventually ran the ragged Nets down.
At one point, the Magic held a slim 21-19 lead, but Gordon’s 13 first quarter points made it as close as the Nets would ever get again. Payton registered 6 (!!) early assists against the once again defense-optional Nets en route to a 32-23 lead and it didn’t slow down until the clock hit double zeroes in the fourth. Following the dominant quarter for those well-known Magic players, the second quarter belonged to Jason Smith and his 10 points on 5-6 shooting — which accurately reflects this heroic blowout to a tee.
Even more surprisingly, the Nets didn’t have a single answer for anything at any point tonight. Not Smith, not Gordon, not Payton, not Nicholson, not Jennings… you know, unless they were trying to figure out how many easy dunks they could give up in 24 minutes or less. The Nets had that answer down to a science on nearly every possession.
This got so ugly that Wayne Ellington, who hadn’t played in 3 games in lieu of the youngsters, was used as a last-ditch effort to quell the Nets’ attempts to bleed out as quickly as possible. Alas, Tony Brown was forced to burn timeout after timeout as the Magic raced towards doubling up the hapless Nets. Brandon Jennings added another 6 assists of his own, contributing to the Magic’s total of 25 first half assists.
10 players on Brooklyn registered an assist in the first half. Nobody could register their second. It was that bad. At the half, 73-45.
While impossible to pinpoint just one or two problems with the Nets’ efforts tonight, it was Sean Kilpatrick’s worst game since signing permanently. His 1-5 shooting in the first half for just 3 points came at a bad time with Lopez struggling (2-7) and without Young’s usual output.
Sensing the Netspocolyspe, Brown sat Bogdanovic and Lopez to start the second half and they would not play again. As one might guess, this was bad news for the Nets. In fact, the Magic just resorted to throwing as many alley-oops as possible, soaring to as high as 67% from the floor. On the other side, the Nets hovered around 40% all while the YES Network crew chatted in detail about apartment hunting in Orlando.
Ah, you know what? I’m just going to stop there.
Yeah, no Young or Hollis-Jefferson hurt. Yeah, the second night of a back-to-back did too. But this? This was the kind of loss that would’ve gotten Lionel Hollins fired, Joe Johnson bought out, or Deron Williams questioning his desire to play basketball again. However, with all those pieces gone and moved on, the only thing left to do is wait for the sweet, sweet release of the season’s end.
The stats: 5 PTS, 2-7 FG, 3 REB, 1 AST, 4 TOV
I will avoid easy jokes.
I will avoid easy jokes.
Hey, maybe Brook Lopez had too much fun in Disneyworld today. Did he go to Disneyworld? I actually don’t know, but 2-7 for 5 points against a Vucevic-less Magic squad is an impossible task for any positive spin.
All we saw of Lopez in the second half was his joking flare-up with another mascot and a shot of him sitting with his socks and shoes off. A very fitting image given tonight’s proceedings.