Make that two heartbreaking losses to the Nets in the last few days.
The Magic didn’t blow a 21-point lead in an overtime loss to Brooklyn like they did on Friday. But they did drop what was a close, winnable game as they lost to the Nets, 114-110. The difference once again was the Nets duo of D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie...and some untimely tip-in’s on both ends of the court by Nikola Vucevic.
The Magic started strong, scoring the first eight points of the game before the Nets answered with a 10-0 run, capped by a Russell pull-up three. The Nets, despite shooting just 40 percent from the field to the Magic’s 45.8 percent, maintained the lead for the rest of the quarter and held a 26-25 advantage after the first. Aaron Gordon, making his return after missing two games due to back stiffness, was quiet offensively in the opening quarter but did have this acrobatic block....
Spencer Dinwiddie scored all 14 of his first half points in the second quarter, including the final 10 of the Nets points in the half as Brooklyn built a lead.
A 10-2 run by the Magic, sparked in part by an aggressive Jonathon Simmons attacking the basket, was capped by a floater by Evan Fournier that evened the score at 46 with 2:44 left in the third. Jonathan Isaac hit a three with 2.4 seconds left in the half to even the score at 56 heading into the break.
An 8-0 run by the Magic - highlighted by Vucevic’s downcourt pass to D.J. Augustin, who hit a three - pulled them even with the Nets at 76 with five minutes left in the third.
The Magic took their first lead since early in the first on Vucevic’s hook shot with 4:49 left, and again later in the quarter when Isaac hit his fourth three of the game for an 81-80 lead. The Nets, though, after a three by Russell and drive by Dinwiddie with seconds left in the quarter carried an 89-86 lead into the fourth.
The Magic opened the fourth on a 7-0 run, capped by a Mo Bamba three that opened a 93-89 lead.
Bamba and Jerian Grant, getting minutes at back-up point guard after Isaiah Briscoe suffered a sprained ankle in the first quarter, somewhat surprisingly (given the Magic’s horrific offensive rating with the two on the court together) held down the fort in the fourth while Augustin and Vucevic rested.
The two teams traded baskets until late in the fourth. With the Nets protecting a 109-106 lead, Vucevic attempted to drive the lane off a broken play and was called for the charge with 1:25 left. Shortly after, DeMarre Carroll missed on a drive attempt and Vucevic and Isaac accidentally tipped the ball in while going for the defensive rebound with 40.7 seconds left to give the Nets a five-point lead...
The Magic season summed up in one play:— Orlando Pinstriped Post (@OPPMagicBlog) January 24, 2019
Nikola Vucevic and Jonathan Isaac go up for the defensive rebound and accidentally tip the ball in.
Nets announcer: “Nikola Vucevic has just given Brooklyn a five-point lead!” pic.twitter.com/ThuXMVnYgA
Orlando cut the lead to one after a tip by Vucevic and pair of free throws by Terrence Ross. Down two with 15.2 seconds remaining, Fournier drove the lane for what should have been a fairly easy lay-up. He missed it and just before the ball was set to come off the rim, Vucevic tipped the ball in too early and was called for offensive goaltending as the game-tying bucket was called off with 3.1 seconds remaining.
Nikola Vucevic with an offensive goaltending violation, Nets ball with 3.1 seconds — up 2. pic.twitter.com/jJnk5AoUoM— Anthony Puccio (@APOOCH) January 24, 2019
Russell then drained two free throws to seal the game.
Russell, who on Friday against the Magic matched a career-high with 40 points, finished with 25 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds. Dinwiddie led all scorers with 29 points on 10-for-17 shooting off the bench.
Vucevic had 21 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and four of the Magic’s 11 blocks. Isaac had 16 points (4 of 7 from three), four rebounds and three blocks. Augustin had 19 points and six assists, Gordon had 10 points and six rebounds, and Simmons added 13 points off the bench,
The Magic, who have lost 8 of their last 11 and now sit three games back of the eighth spot, next host the Washington Wizards on Friday for another match-up with a team ahead of them in the Eastern Conference playoff race.