New year, same Magic.
For Orlando, 2018 started off the same way 2017 ended: with poor shooting, bad late-game execution, and another loss.
The Magic, who shot just 36.5 percent but stayed in the game thanks to 19 second chance points generated by 19 offensive rebounds, failed to close out the Nets and lost, 98-95, in what was a very winnable game.
After Bismack Biyombo grabbed one of his nine offensive rebounds and kicked it out for the reset, Jonathon Simmons hit a jumper that gave the Magic a 91-87 lead with 2:53 left. The Nets' Spencer Dinwiddie answered with a three, and Brooklyn soon took the lead on a three-point play by Caris LeVert with 1:03 to go, one of 11 lead changes in the second half.
Elfrid Payton evened it up with a drive plus the foul, though he missed the free throw, with 47.1 seconds remaining. From there, the Nets drained some free throws and the Magic's shot selection and execution was abysmal.
Trailing by one and coming out of a timeout, Evan Fournier launched and missed a contested straightaway three with 14 seconds remaining on the shot clock when a chance for the two-for-one had already passed. Down by three and pushing the ball up court with 18 seconds left, Fournier came off a high screen, received a pass from Payton and attempted a fadeaway three that was blocked by Allen Crabbe. The Nets were unable to corral the lose ball before it went out of bounds, giving the Magic one final chance with 5.9 seconds left. D.J. Augustin then missed a contested corner three to end the game.
Aaron Gordon, who got some minutes at center, had 20 points and 12 rebounds. Biyombo played his best game of the season with 13 points and 17 rebounds, both season-highs, and three blocks. Payton had 17 points and seven assists and Fournier added 13 points but shot just 4-for-15 from the field. As a team the Magic made only 6 of 31 attempts from three for 19.4 percent.
The Nets, coming off a tough loss to the Celtics on Sunday, had lost six straight games on the backend of back-to-backs prior to Monday's game against the Magic. Rookie center Jarrett Allen came off the bench to score a career-high 16 points. LeVert added 15 points, eight assists and five rebounds.
So, 2018 begins with a loss for the Magic. The good news is they nowo return home. The bad news is the Rockets will be in town on Wednesday, followed by the Cavs on Saturday. Could be a rough start to the new year for the Magic.
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