Magic, Nets ready for Round 2 in Brooklyn
The Orlando Magic get a chance to avenge a bitter defeat when they play at the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night.
With Aaron Gordon watching the final 9:19 from the bench after his back stiffened, the Magic blew a 21-point lead in a 117-115 home loss to the surging Nets on Friday night.
Gordon, who has missed Orlando's last two games, remains questionable for Wednesday.
The Magic valued quantity over quality in Gordon's absence in a 122-103 win at Atlanta on Monday.
Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier each scored 29 points. Terrence Ross (16) and D.J. Augustin (15) also scored in double figures, and four other Magic players contributed at least seven points to the club's biggest offensive output since putting up 131 on the New York Knicks more than two months ago.
Orlando coach Steve Clifford noted in the wake of the Brooklyn loss that offense hasn't been a recent problem for his club. The Magic hit 50 percent of their shots in the narrow defeat to the Nets, then were even more accurate (50.5 percent) in the holiday victory over Atlanta that snapped a three-game losing streak.
"We've got to get our defense going again if we're going to have a chance," he said. "If we don't, we have no shot.
"The first 20 games, I think we were 17th in defense. The next (20 games), we were ninth. But this stretch of games, I don't know where we would be, but I would think it would be at the bottom seven or eight teams. It just hasn't been good enough."
Just about everything the Nets have done in recent games has been good enough. They have won four straight, finally getting an easy one in a 123-94 blowout of the Sacramento Kings on Monday to open a five-day, three-game homestand.
The margin of victory was their largest of the season.
The Nets (25-23) sit in the sixth playoff spot in the East, but a handful of teams are knocking at their door, including the Magic, who, at 20-27, currently reside outside the top eight.
Brooklyn will see the Magic again on Feb. 2 in Orlando.
One player the Magic surely has no interest in seeing once again, let alone twice, is Nets star D'Angelo Russell, whose career-high 40 points against Orlando last week helped propel him to Eastern Conference Playoff of the Week honors.
Russell had 31 points in the win over the Kings, including seven 3-pointers to give him a total of 15 in his last two games.
Nets coach Kenny Atkinson basically labeled his point guard unstoppable while addressing reporters after the game.
"Those pull-up threes are something; those are (James) Harden-esque," he said.
"They switch and he gets in a couple moves, couple dribbles, and punishes the switch with the pull-up three. And then I thought, later, he mixed in the drive against the switches. So, to me, that was a growth area for him, handling switches better. But if he keeps making that pull-up three, it's going to be tough to keep him in front."
The Nets have won six straight at home. They are 8-2 in January and 17-5 since Dec. 7, equaling the best 22-game stretch in their Brooklyn era.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 22, 2019