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New Jersey Nets 96, Orlando Magic 95

The Orlando Magic: Where blowing leads to inferior competition happens.

Screw the usual photo/caption/intro/boxscore format, I'm going to get right down to it: We pissed this game away in the fourth quarter and it's probably our worst loss of the season. We let an offensively-challenged Nets team outscore us 30-18 in the final stanza. Not only that, we let three -- three! -- Nets scrubs have great offensive games off the bench: Darrell Armstrong did his Leandro Barbosa impression with 13 points (a season-high total) in 16 minutes, Malik Allen had 12 points in 19 minutes, and Jason Collins had 10 points (a season-high total) on 5-of-5 shooting.

I'm furious with almost everyone on the team, especially Dwight Howard and Jameer Nelson. All of Collins' baskets came because Dwight simply forgot about him on defense. I understand that it's easy to leave a guy open when he averages just 1.1 points per game, but Dwight seemed to be more concerned with making highlight-reel blocked shots from the weak-side than with staying with his man to box him out. Additionally, as the Sun Sports commentators noted throughout their telecast, Howard spent much of the game joking with the Nets' Vince Carter. Where's the intensity? Where's the focus?

Here's Basketbawful on Jason Collins, the man Dwight was supposed to guard:

On Friday night, he went scoreless for the 18th time in 28 games. He also notched the exceptionally rare four trillion. That, it seems, was the end of Lawrence Frank's patience, because Collins never got off the bench on Sataurday [sic] night.

Yes, Jason Collins is a terrible basketball player. Dwight Howard is arguably the best center in the league today. But his defense tonight was atrocious. Additionally, he was a horrible 3-of-10 on the foul line. Just two more makes and the Magic would have won the game.  and he should really hear it from Stan Van Gundy in the locker room.

Nelson -- who came off the bench for the second straight game -- played harder than Howard did, frequently driving to the basket attempting to draw fouls. But he continued to do so even after it was clear he was not going to get the benefit of the whistle. He seemed frustrated by the poor officiating, and he too appeared to lose focus.

A note on the officiating: it was bad. Really bad. Just inconsistent on both ends; sometimes, ticky-tack reach-ins were called, yet other times defensive players were allowed to slap relentlessly at the offensive player without penalty. But as always, officiating should never be blamed for a loss. The Magic should never have let the Nets get close enough to let the officiating appear to decide the outcome. So as horrible as Jack Nies and company were tonight, most of our guys were just as bad, and are more complicit in our defeat.

Did Keyon Dooling have a cold or something? Keyon registered his second DNP-CD of the season on the night, despite the fact that we could have used his defense on Armstrong late in the game. Not only that, Maurice Evans, the man receiving the Magic's backup two-guard minutes, shot just 1-of-8. Mo played hard, but he just didn't have it tonight. Keyon needed to get some fourth-quarter minutes. I'd like to hear the story on why he wasn't used tonight.

I would like to commend three Magic players for their strong efforts tonight:

  • Carlos Arroyo shut down Jason Kidd in the first half and continued to run the offense effectively, with 7 assists and no turnovers.
  • Adonal Foyle had 10 points and 6 rebounds in relief of Howard, who was in early foul trouble.
  • Hedo Turkoglu scored 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter. The fact that he lost the ball on the final play of the game doesn't discount his valiant effort in the fourth quarter.

This team should be absolutely ashamed of itself for the way it blew the game tonight, especially on its home floor in front of thousands of fans who paid good money to see it play. Maybe some Magic fans were at least happy that former fan-favorite Darrell Armstrong, who played in 502 games for the Magic over 9 seasons, played well. But overall, it was a piss-poor effort. We should have ran the Nets out of the damn gym; instead, they embarrassed us, we embarrassed ourselves, and the team cheated its hungry fans out of a free Dunkin' Donut tomorrow morning. UGH!