But E'Twaun Moore might have been the star of Orlando's night: he scored 14 straight points during one second-quarter spurt and finished the night with 17, a season-high.
For Brooklyn, Joe Johnson scored 31 points with four rebounds and five assists in an impressive performance despite the loss. Mirza Teletović finished with more shot attempts than points, but his three-point barrage in the third quarter proved instrumental in getting the Nets back in to the game. Before fouling out, rookie center Mason Plumlee contributed 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, along with five rebounds, to offer Kevin Garnett some needed relief.
Afflalo got off to a brilliant start to lift an otherwise lethargic Magic team in the first quarter, which they finished trailing by a 22-20 margin. The veteran swingman played more aggressively than he had in quite some time, getting to the basket with tenaciousness and looking for his shot whenever the opportunity availed itself. Orlando needed the boost: his teammates shot 4-of-12 from the floor for nine points in the first. The Nets' own poor shooting--Teletović missed six of his first seven shots in an eight-minute stint--kept Orlando within striking distance.
And then something unusual happened: the Magic's bench popped off. In the second period, the reserves accounted for 23 of the team's 35 points as it opened up a lead that swelled to as much as 16 points. Moore, the third-year combo guard from Purdue, became the star: he scored 14 consecutive Orlando points in a two-minute, eight-second stint to boost Orlando's lead to 11. Andrew Nicholson added seven points of his own in a comfortable, assured performance.
The Nets erupted for 35 points in the third quarter to get back into the game, going 6-of-11 from three-point distance. Teletović accounted for four of those treys. The final three-plus minutes of the period featured two ties and four lead changes as Brooklyn worked its way back into the game, but Moore gave the Magic a cushion when he pulled up for a transition three with one-tenth of a second remaining in the period and nailed the shot. That basket boosted the Magic's lead to five, its largest in more than six minutes.
With their reserves on the floor, the Magic maintained their five-point lead through the first half of the final frame. At the under-six timeout, coach Jacque Vaughn substituted en masse to get his staring five back on the floor. Moments later, Marcus Thornton drilled a three-pointer to tie the score at 97.
After that hiccup, the Magic's starters recovered, closing the game on an 18-14 run to seize victory, though Tobias Harris spelled Dedmon for some stretches. They withstood a late flurry from Johnson, a seven-time All-Star, who scored deuces on three straight Nets possessions in the final two minutes, the last of which brought Brooklyn to within a point.
But Kyle O'Quinn found Maurice Harkless cutting to the basket on the Magic's next trip for an uncontested slam, exposing the Nets' lack of an interior defensive presence with Andrei Kirilenko at center.
Johnson scored another layup with 13.9 seconds to play for his fourth straight bucket, forcing the Nets to play the foul game. After Jameer Nelson sank two free throws, Johnson lined up a tying three-point try, only for O'Quinn to block it at its release point.
With a four-point edge, Harkless fouled Teletović on a three-point try, which mistake could have proven costly had more than two seconds remained.