Nets Overcome Slow Start Against Magic, Cruise to Eighth Straight Win

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Final: 02/25/2021

W 129 – 92

Just for a moment, it seemed like the Nets had struck a cold streak. Brooklyn had an underwhelming start and shot just 32% from the field in the first quarter, trailing by as many as 10 points.

But that did not last very long.

The Nets ramped up their efficiency as they cruised to a 129-92 lead against the Magic at home on Thursday. The win is Brooklyn’s eighth straight, marking the team’s longest streak since 2006.

Brooklyn led by as many as 40 points as they got balanced and consistent contributions throughout the lineup. Though they shot poorly in the first quarter, they fed off turnovers and second-chance opportunities and out-scored Orlando 111-64 over the last 31 minutes of the game.

The Nets’ performance between the first and second quarters was night and day. Brooklyn out-scored the Magic 41-19 in the second quarter on the backs of James Harden and Kyrie Irving as six Nets reached double figures on the night. Overall, the team shot 53.3% from the distance and 20-of-45 from three. 

Brooklyn’s defense helped spur the team’s comeback as it scored 24 points off 18 turnovers while giving the ball away 13 times themselves. The Nets also held the edge in the paint with a 50-44 advantage in points and 58-42 in rebounds. 

Nic Claxton came into his own and played a big part in the Nets’ dominance in the paint as he put up 10 points and four steals off the bench. On the other end, Nikola Vucevic cemented himself as a Nets killer with 28 points and 12 rebounds, though he cooled down in the second half. 

The Nets are playing freely and the trust in their teammates shines through. The team had a slow start offensively — to put it lightly — and even threw up some airballs and bricks, but leadership from Harden and Irving brought the team together for another dominant win.

The Magic are not a playoff team, but Brooklyn had a habit of playing down to teams under .500; now, they are beating the teams they are supposed to beat. They are turning weaknesses into strengths as they take care of the ball and insert that effort into defense. Oh, and Kevin Durant is still waiting on the sidelines.

Next up: The Mavericks on Saturday. Let’s see if they can go for nine. 

Kyrie Irving

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The stats: 27 PTS, 11-18 FG, 1-6 3PT, 4-5 FT, 5 REB, 9 AST, 2 STL, 1 TO, 30 MIN

Kyrie Irving had a quick and tidy 27-point game in 30 minutes.

You could tell Kyrie was feeling it against the Magic. His three-point shot was still off, but he was aggressive early with 10 first-quarter points and continued that throughout the game.

As Frank Isola said post-game, it looks like Kyrie is having fun when he is on the court — he even did a shimmy. Kyrie’s chemistry with his teammates continues to grow and it was great to see him take the initiative as Brooklyn’s leading scorer against the Magic. 

James Harden

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The stats: 20 PTS, 7-16 FG, 5-10 3PT, 1-2 FT, 9 REB, 7 AST, 1 STL, 6 TO, 33 MIN

The turnovers added up throughout the game, but Harden deserves a lot of the credit for the Nets’ second-quarter comeback.

Harden dropped 13 points in the second quarter as the Nets turned a 10-point deficit into a 20-point lead. He worked well with the bench as well as Claxton and Tyler Johnson gave a good boost for Brooklyn.

If Harden played the entire game, he could have had another triple-double. The extra rest time should be even more meaningful in preparation for Saturday against the Mavericks. 

Landry Shamet

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The stats: 19 PTS, 7-12 FG, 5-9 3PT, 9 REB, 1 TO, 29 MIN

Landry Shamet’s stat line is worth a double-take. We would insert a highlight from his night, but somehow a 19-point game off the bench was not worthy of a tweet from the Nets’ Twitter account.

Shamet made a three-pointer early and then dropped 16 points in the fourth quarter as the Nets extended their lead to 40. He continues to be reliable from distance and even added nine (!) rebounds and was a team-high plus-30 (!) on Thursday.

The Nets bring an extra layer when Shamet has to be closely guarded. He can bring more consistency throughout a game, but when Shamet is on fire, good things happen. 

Joe Harris

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The stats: 14 PTS, 5-7 FG, 4-6 3PT, 3 REB, 2 AST, 25 MIN

Joe-E-Automatic.

Joe started the game 4-for-4 from deep to continue his recent hot streak. He cooled down a bit in the second half after dropping 10 points in the first two quarters, but he got some well-deserved rest time.

What else can we say other than Joe continues to live up to expectations and then some. What a season so far for Mr. Buckets.

Bruce Brown

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The stats: 14 PTS, 6-9 FG, 0-1 3PT, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 3 AST, 2 STL, 26 MIN

Bruce Brown picked up where he left off on Tuesday.

He did not have a three-pointer on Thursday, but he continued to flex his way into the paint while holding his own on defense. Bruce played a part in the Nets’ second-quarter comeback as they found momentum. 

Any double-digit scoring night for Bruce is just a bonus on what he provides everywhere else on the court. He is playing his best basketball of the season. 

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