On Friday night, the Nets defeated the Orlando Magic by a final score of 98-86.
The Skinny: The Nets, other than Andray Blatche and Joe Johnson, came out sloppy, which kept the young Magic team in the game. Brooklyn picked up the pace and established a four-point lead after the first quarter.
Johnson kept up his torrid shooting to start the second quarter, but the Magic kept hanging around with good production collectively from their bench. E’Twaun Moore hit a few shots in the waning minutes, including a buzzer beater, to help the Magic trail by just one at the break.
Orlando took the lead to start the third quarter, but the Nets immediately opened a 13-point led on strong three-point shooting from Gerald Wallace. Brooklyn hit on 6-of-7 from three-point range and outscored the Magic 31-21 in the quarter to take an 11-point lead after three.
Johnson drilled buckets to open the fourth quarter, which basically put the game out of reach. Both teams emptied their benches in the final minutes of another big Nets’ win.
High Scorers: Johnson led all scorers with 22 points on 10-of-16 from the field and also had five assists. For the Magic, Glen “Big Baby” Davis led the way with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Key Stats: The Nets hit on 11-of-20 shots from beyond the arc (55 percent) compared to the Magic’s 1-of-11 (9 percent). All five Nets starters finished in double figures.
Who Was Hot: Wallace scored a season-high 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting including 5-of-6 from three-point range. Blatche filled in admirably for Brook Lopez (strained right ankle) with 14 points and nine rebounds. With 10 rebounds, Reggie Evans pulled down at least 10 boards for his fifth straight game. Moore scored 13 points for Orlando on 6-of-10 from the field. Andrew Nicholson poured in 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting off the bench for the Magic.
Who Was Not: Aaron Afflalo, who came into the game leading the Magic with 15.4 points per game, scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting. J.J. Redick was ineffective off the bench for Orlando, missing all four shots from the field and scoring just two points.
Fun Fact: The Nets are now 8-1 against the Eastern Conference this season and 7-2 against teams that made the playoffs last year. The team also set a franchise record for wins in the month of November (11).
Jim Mancari, ContributorThe Nets responded very well playing without Lopez, but it took the whole first half to really get going. Once the Nets started draining threes, they settled in nicely to cruise to the victory.
Defensively, Brooklyn continues to play well, holding its opponent to under 90 points for th fifth consecutive game.
This was shaping up to be a trap game, as the Nets came off two emotional wins against the Knicks and Celtics and have the Miami Heat next on the schedule.
Wallace continues to be an unsung hero for this team. He was effective at both ends of the floor in this one, picking up some of the offensive slack from the absence of Lopez.
Though his shooting has been a bit off, Deron Williams has acted as the team’s floor general, adding seven assists.
The victory marks the first time since the 2005-2006 season in which the Nets defeated the Magic in all three games of a season. It certainly helped that Jameer Nelson, Hedo Turkoglu and Al Harrington again didn’t play for Orlando.
Winners of five straight, Brooklyn (11-4) now gears up for a matchup of the top-two teams in the Eastern Conference Saturday against the Heat at American Airlines Arena, where Brooklyn suffered its worst loss of the season (103-73) on Nov. 7. The 7:30 p.m. game will be televised on NBA TV and the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.