Recap: Brooklyn Nets 98, Orlando Magic 86 | Magic Basketball

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Dec 01

Recap: Brooklyn Nets 98, Orlando Magic 86

Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

BOX SCORE

There was a hint of inevitability in the air during this game. The Magic weren’t playing badly and the Nets weren’t playing well, but we often see this happen in the NBA: an overwhelming favorite plays down to the level of its opponent, eventually pulling away for the win when talent and execution inevitably overcome the numbness of getting up for another NBA night.

Not to be overly glum, but this was not an enjoyable contest. Both teams struggled offensively early on. The Nets were missing Brook Lopez, who has served as a first quarter focal point all season long, and even though they have several other weapons on the team, his absence seemed to throw everything off rhythm. Only Joe Johnson, who hit six of his first seven shots, kept the team’s head above water.

On the other side, the Magic were clearly missing Jameer Nelson’s guiding hand. E’Twaun Moore actually had a decent game filling in, scoring 13 points on 10 shots and only taking a couple of spine-chillingly bad pull-ups, but he’s pretty much limited to creating looks for himself. As such, most of the game ran through and Nikola Vucevic and Big Baby in the post, with the former struggling against the lengthy Andray Blatche and the latter not much of a creator himself. The lack of movement especially hurt Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick, who went a combined 2-for-14 from the floor.

Both teams sludged towards a 45-44 Brooklyn lead at the half, at which point the Nets seemed to remember how both rosters are constructed and ended things in the third quarter.

Deron Williams woke up from his slumber to get into the lane and kick out to open shooters, most of whom were Gerald Wallace. Crash hit four of the Nets’ six triples in the quarter, most of which were of the wide open variety, with Deron and Joe adding one each. The game wasn’t blown completely open — the quarter ended with the Nets up 11 — but the stagnant offense and Reggie Egans doing crazy-beard-man work on the offensive boards was enough to lock this one away.

The true value of these games -- other than the resulting draft pick -- will be the young guys learning how to deal with these situations. I assume Jacque Vaughn's scouting report mentioned not to leave Gerald Wallace wide open in the right corner, or how much Evans can change a game just by muscling his way towards misses, but the execution can often lack without a few years of getting to see why exactly those scouting reports are there.

In the meantime, Magic fans can be soothed to sleep by the serene sounds of Andrew Nicholson mid-range jumpers calmly swishing away. More of that, please.

MVP (Most Valuable Player)

Crash finished with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting (including 5-for-6 from three-point range). His four three-pointers in the third quarter proved to be the straw that broke the Magic’s back.

LVP (Least Valuable Player)

It’s not the back-up. It’s the back-up’s back-up. With E’Twaun Moore promoted to the starting lineup, Ish Smith got 17 minutes off the bench and spent most of them taking bad shots, going 2-for-7 from the floor with one of his makes being an unlikely buzzer beater to end the third.

Defining Moment

After a nice Moe Harkless dunk put the Magic up three early in the third, the Nets hit three triples in 57 seconds sandwiched around a Vucevic layup to put the Nets up four. The game wouldn’t be close again.

X-Factor

Andray Blatche continues to play shockingly well now that he’s no longer suckling destruction from the Wizards’ teat. The big man played great post defense, got to the rim for some nifty layups, and genuinely looks in shape — faint praise, but an accomplishment given his past.

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