Coming off their worst loss of the season at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers, and with looming concerns about more lineup changes, the Magic needed a bounce-back game. Bounce-back they did, cruising to a 105-82 victory at the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night. They got it done on both sides of the ball, shooting 54% from the field (including 9-21 from 3), while limiting the Nets to only 39%.
The Magic shot well in the first quarter, putting up 25 points on 10-16 shooting, including two made 3s. The Nets kept pace at the free throw line, however, using 5-7 FTs to score 25 points of their own. Orlando did a good job of keeping control of the ball on offense until the bench came in, when Aaron Gordon and Mario Hezonja both gave up 2 turnovers each in the latter part of the quarter. Coach Scott Skiles opted for the full 5-man line change again when it came time for substitutions as he searches for the right rotation to keep the Magic engaged and energized at all points in the game.
Orlando gained some ground in the second quarter by stepping up on the defensive end, holding Brooklyn to just 33% shooting in the quarter. While Thaddeus Young and Jarret Jack kept the Nets afloat with 10 points apiece in the first half, Brook Lopez struggled shooting the ball, hitting only 3-12 from the field. He was particularly ineffective in the second quarter when he matched up against Jason Smith much of the time, going 0-5 while attempting an awkward array of contested floaters and hook shots.
The Magic were led by in the first half by Elfrid Payton's 10 points, continuing a recent trend of increased scoring from the young Magic guard. Counting Monday's game against the Nets, Payton has now reached double-digit scoring in 6 of his last 7 games, and 8 of his last 10. Tobias Harris added 9 points and 8 rebounds for the Magic, who led 52-45 going into the second half.
In the third, it was time for the Magic's offense to shine. Nikola Vucevic, who had a relatively quiet first half, took command of the period both scoring and passing, contributing to 20 of the Magic's 30 points in the quarter. 12 of those points were his own, mostly on a series of long range jumpers and hooks over Lopez. The Nets would have been blown out of the game completely at that point if not for their 4-6 3s. Payton also continued his scoring effort, putting up 7 more points. Critically, the Magic only committed 2 turnovers and only gave up one offensive rebound in the quarter, limiting the Nets' extra opportunities. The Magic led 83-69 with one quarter to go.
Orlando quickly pushed the lead to 20 with a 10-0 run spanning the third and fourth, at which point they allowed the bench to finish out the game. They closed the game out with strong defense, allowing the Nets to score only 13 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. More importantly, NICHOLSON SMASH:
...maybe not the most inspired "huhhnn" in the world, Jeff Turner, but we'll take it. Nicholson would finish with 15 points. Overall, it was a balanced effort by the Magic, as no player played more than 30 minutes. They'll look to keep up the effort back home against Charlotte on Wednesday.