The Brooklyn Nets travelled to Orlando to face the Magic on Friday night in this Eastern Conference clash. With both teams looking to make the playoffs this year we were in for a close affair and it was a close affair that prevailed thanks to late run in the 4th quarter by Orlando.
Coach Lionel Hollins was left with many decisions after the Nets last game against the Chicago Bulls as Nets star forward Brook Lopez finished the game with a season high 29 points coming off the bench.
Although it seemed obvious to some fans that Lopez must start against Orlando, Hollins wasn’t as sure as he had finally found a system that was working in Brooklyn with the pairing of Kevin Garnett and Mason Plumlee.
Naturally Plumlee would have been the obvious swap for Lopez but he himself is averaging 14 points with 8 rebounds per game as a starter and seems to be the player who takes control when the Nets need a go to guy. Hollins decided to stick with what’s working and left Lopez on the bench which raised a few eyebrows as Lopez would have more physicality to try and contain Orlando’s star center Nikola Vucevic.
Orlando came out the stronger of the two sides at the start of proceedings with Nikola Vucevic bullying Mason Plumlee to get 5 of the Magic’s first 7 points. He finished the first quarter with 7 to propel Magic to a 25-22 first quarter lead.
However this lead was short lived as Brooklyn went on a tear in the second. With Lopez scoring again and the struggling Deron Williams knocking down jumpers things were only on their way up for the Nets as they took the second quarter 30-15 to lead at HT 52-40.
Brooklyn came out strong in the second half they were making shots and they were making them fast giving Magic all but no chance of coming back into this one.
It looked as if for every 3 shots made by Brooklyn, Magic would make one and they extended their lead by 25 at the end of the third 86-61.The game seemed to be over and the Nets would increase to .500 for the season but remember this is the NBA where amazing “almost” happens.
The 4th quarter started off normally, a dull atmosphere spread around the Amway Center as it looked a near certainty that this game was going to be a blow out. Brooklyn fans who thought they may as well switch off the game were given a rude awakening as Magic put a show on in the forth .
It seemed as though the Nets couldn’t buy a shot as the Magic cut into Brooklyn’s lead to be behind by only 12 with 3 minutes to go. Even at this point you would expect the Nets to close the game out but things went from bad to worse as Devyn Marble and Elfrid Payton both hit clutch shots to force the nets to call a timeout with their lead only at 8 with 2:35 to go.
It seemed to get better as the Nets brought Plumlee back to the floor which was a wise choice by Lionel Hollins as he scored straight off the timeout but magic responded with back to back threes by Channing Frye and Evan Fournier to bring them within 4 at 97-93, they then sent Deron Williams to the line who converted one of his two free throws before Elfrid Payton was sent to the line, Elfrid would miss both free throws and also Sergey Karasev would miss both free throws on the next play for the nets, finally as Payton was fouled again he made one of his two free throws to give the Magic a chance .
Unfortunately for the magic Fournier missed a game tying 3 which gave Joe Johnson 2 free throws which he made to close out the game for the Nets, Payton hit a late 3 but the magic could not fouled which gave the nets a 2 point victory in this very exciting end to what ended up being a competitive game.
- Nets win 3rd straight , increase to .500
- Magic end game with 33-10 run
- Mason Plumlee has 18pts, 9 rebounds
Nets Star Player:
Mason Plumlee 18Pts, 9Reb, 2Ast, 1Stl, 2Blk
Magic Star Player:
Elfrid Payton 16Pts, 9Reb,10Ast, 3Stl, 1Blk