Nets hang around but fall to the Magic 83-77


Final: 01/08/2016

L 77 83

Believe it or not, the Nets were actually 3-0 against the Orlando Magic in 2014-2015.

Boy, the times, they are a changin’.

Even against a Magic team missing Elfrid Payton, they just looked… mostly helpless. Whether that was Joe Johnson’s effort-less help defense or Thaddeus Young’s fastbreak lob to a Magic player, there just wasn’t much positive, above-average action from Brooklyn — and, yet, they, to use Lionel Hollins’ favorite word, battled for three and a half sloppy quarters.

In fact, the Nets shot just about the same percentage from the field as they had points in the first half — 38% — but all 10 players that featured for Brooklyn scored. Nobody scored more than 17 but six finished with more than 5. An odd statistic to point out, sure, but the Nets’ 22 bench points were an absolutely crucial factor tonight as they cautiously treaded water.

Willie Reed is the grind ‘n grind heart of this Nets squad and has made some very palpable and emotional improvements to their second unit in replacing Andrea Bargnani, who logged 0 minutes tonight. Wayne Ellington found some of that sweet, sweet Floridian magic that helped him drop 28 on Miami last month and was Brooklyn’s high-man off the bench with 11, including a buzzer-beating heave that banked in to close the third quarter.

Even Shane Larkin, who has struggled to fit Jarrett Jack’s large shoes, had his best game as a starter, despite what the box score might say. And yet, even with a closer-to-complete effort from the Nets, you still know where this is going:

Missed shots, opportunities, and assignments paired with a poor 16 turnovers spelled doomed for the Nets once more. Which raises the question — what if they weren’t basketball players? What if they were in the job occupation more in line with the Orlando Magic’s namesake?

What if the Brooklyn Nets were wizards? Would they be good Wizards? Would they muggles, half-bloods, or werewolves? So, in the spirit of their apparently unbeatable opponent and everybody’s favorite magic-related franchise, Harry Potter, we graded the Nets’ competent-but-ultimately-a-little-too-short performance against Orlando.

Because, at this point, they need more than magic to win a game, they need an absolute miracle.

Brook Lopez


The stats: 17 PTS, 6-15 FG%, 8 RBS, 1 BLK, 3 TOs

Brook Lopez is Neville Longbottom in books 1-5.

Who is Neville Longbottom at the beginning of the Harry Potter series? A stumbling, dorky wizard with some potential and effort, but ultimately underpowered and limited — just like Lopez was through three quarters against his mortal rival, Nikola Vucevic.

Vucevic pressured Lopez into just 2-8 shooting in the first half, but the tide started to turn. Lopez started to pick up a few easy buckets while also forcing the Magic center into 9-23 shooting, but it was too little, too late. It’s tough to watch Lopez like this sometimes — stiff, rigid, and willing to fadeaway — as we’re fully capable of the performances he can bring to the table.

Just as we know Longbottom doesn’t find his true powers until he trains with Dumbledore’s Army in Half-Blood Prince, it’s frustrating to see the, for now, reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week struggle in the same, exact ways as usual.

Yes, Lopez can’t always deal the final blow to Voldemort, but that doesn’t make nights like these any easier to stomach.