After building a lead as large as eight points in the first half, the Orlando Magic wilted after halftime against the Brooklyn Nets on Sunday and fell by a 97-88 final score. Despite the loss, Orlando got encouraging performances from two of its reserves: Tobias Harris scored a team-best 18 points with seven rebounds, and Andrew Nicholson posted 12 points and seven rebounds in his best, most assured performance in recent memory.
The loss assures that the Magic will finish the 2013/14 season with the worst road record in the team's 25-year history.
Nets rookie Mason Plumlee dominated off the bench despite hardly ever touching the ball: the advanced stats community's newest statistical darling shot 6-of-8 from the floor for 17 points, 11 rebounds, two assists, and two steals in 26 minutes. Four other Brooklyn players reached double-figures, with Deron Williams (16 points) and Mirza Teletović (20) standing out by making four three-pointers apiece.
The Magic held a three-point edge at halftime due in part to the Nets' miscues: Brooklyn did not play sharply, with most of their 11 turnovers being of the unforced variety. Orlando benefitted from the Nets' lax start, shooting 54.1 percent from the floor. Victor Oladipo, in his 42nd start of the season, shot 4-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-3 from three-point distance, punishing the Nets for playing him for the drive.
But Orlando's lead looked like fool's gold from the outset: the Nets held a 20-16 advantage on the boards and shot 50 percent themselves, indicating that they'd be in excellent shape if they could curb their turnovers and maintain their rebounding edge.
Though turnovers continued to bedevil the Nets in the third quarter--they committed six in the period--it hardly mattered overall: the hosts shot 7-of-11 from three-point range to build a lead as large as 13 points. After Maurice Harkless and Arron Afflalo nailed back-to-back threes to put Orlando up by five, the Nets went on a 27-9 run to take control of the game.
The Magic would chip away at that lead throughout the fourth quarter, but couldn't get the stops they needed to really make a serious push for victory. Doron Lamb at least made it interesting by sinking a trey which cut the Nets' lead to eight points with 2:46 to go, but Brooklyn countered by making three of four foul shots sandwiched around the Magic's 20th turnover of the game.