Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Let’s just cut to the chase.
With each loss, the Orlando Magic are confirming everyone’s suspicion before the season began that they were going to be one of the worst teams in the NBA.
After beginning the season with a 12-13 record, it seemed like the Magic were going to defy expectations. Orlando’s defense was leading the charge and an overachieving group was coming away with impressive road wins over teams like the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.
Then reality set in. The Magic regressed defensively and as a result, they went on a season-high 10-game losing streak. Orlando’s surprising 12-13 start seemed so long ago.
The Magic snapped their 10-game losing streak with a thrilling 104-101 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers and followed that up with an impressive win against the Indiana Pacers four days later.
Unfortunately for Orlando, they’ve reverted back to their losing ways. With their latest loss, this time at the hands of the Brooklyn Nets, the Magic are now in the middle of their second-longest losing streak of the season (six games).
The Nets had a strong first half thanks to Deron Williams (18 points on 7-for-8 shooting from the floor). He was scoring from all over the court and there was very little Orlando could do to stop him from doing whatever he wanted on offense. Williams was supplemented by strong first half performances from Brook Lopez (12 points) and Joe Johnson (7 points).
In the third quarter, Brooklyn took their foot off the gas pedal and allowed the Magic to get back into the game. Glen Davis, Maurice Harkless, and Nikola Vucevic combined to score 21 of Orlando’s 23 points in the period and cut the deficit to seven heading into the fourth quarter.
Harkless (who finished with a career-high 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting), in particular, was impressive in the third quarter, nailing two three-pointers from the corners and showing glimpses of the type of player he can be in the NBA — a “3-and-D” specialist.
But the Nets woke up in the final period. Brooklyn went on a 23-4 run to start the quarter and road some hot three-point shooting from their “Bench Mob” to blow the game wide open and put the Magic away.
Aside from Harkless’ career night, there isn’t much else to take away from this game.
After tying a career-high with 31 points against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, J.J. Redick couldn’t hit the broad side of the barn against Brooklyn (2-for-13 shooting). He did, however, set a new career-high with 10 assists. And Nikola Vucevic had another solid performance, finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds.
But the fact of the matter is that Orlando is who we thought they were before the season started — a bad team.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Williams did most of his damage in the first half, scoring 18 of his 20 points to give the Nets a 16-point lead at the break. Williams played the role of facilitator in the second half and finished with nine assists.
The “Bench Mob” for Brooklyn were the difference makers against the Magic. The Nets’ second unit outscored Orlando’s bench, 41-14, and helped blow the game wide open in the fourth quarter.
After a lackluster third quarter, in which Brooklyn was outscored 23-14 by the Magic and relinquished a double-digit lead, the Nets opened the final period on a 23-4 run and cruised to a 97-77 victory.