A team like the Brooklyn Nets certainly do not need extra possessions. But the Orlando Magic gave them a bunch anyway.
Give those bonus opportunities to a team with two All-Stars and the best offense in the league and you will be in for a very long night.
That was the case for the Magic on Thursday in Brooklyn. The Nets, with some help from the Magic’s inability to protect the ball or clean the glass, cruised to a 129-92 win over Orlando.
The win was the eighth straight for the surging Nets, who despite being with Kevin Durant for the last six games are now on their longest winning streak since the days of Jason Kidd and Vince Carter I’m 2006.
It didn’t start off so well for the Nets, though, as the Magic actually built an early double-digit lead.
Both teams started slow offensively, with the Magic going the first three minutes without a field goal and missing eight of their first nine shots.
The Nets, owners of the league’s best offense at over 120 points per game, didn’t fare much better. They started the game 2-for-10 from the field and committed three early turnovers, with the Magic capitalizing on this one with a pretty outlet pass by Al-Farouq Aminu to James Ennis for the dunk...
Threes by Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier later put the Magic up 15-7. The lead reached 10 when Vooch backed down Harden and hit a turnaround hook to make it 19-9.
Vucevic was in All-Star form early, scoring 10 quick points in the first, helping the Magic shoot 48 percent in the quarter. The Nets, despite shooting just 32 percent, closed the gap as the Magic began to turn the ball over and allow offensive rebounds to a team that isn’t great at offensive rebounding. A putback by Kyrie Irving at the buzzer capped a 6-0 run to end the quarter and pull the Nets within 28-24. Irving, like his fellow All-Star Vooch, also had 10 first-quarter points.
The Nets began playing Brooklyn-basketball in the second, orchestrating an early 8-0 run to pull within one.
The Nets would go on to outscore the Magic 41-19 in the quarter by shooting 72.7 percent in the second, including 7 of 11 from three-point territory.
That was led by James Harden, who scored 13 of his 17 first half-point in the second, making 5 of his 6 shot attempts. Joe Harris, one of four Nets in double figures in the half, added 11 first-half points, knocking down all three of his threes.
James Harden Joe Harris— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) February 26, 2021
Seven three-pointers between the two in one half pic.twitter.com/u2uvm8n5l8
The Magic had eight turnovers in the quarter, bringing their total in the half to 11, which led to 16 points for the Nets.
Vucevic had 12 of the Magic’s 19 points in the second, with his teammates shooting just 3-for-13 in the quarter. Vooch had 22 points in 18 first-half minutes, going 9-for-14 from the field, including 3 of 5 from deep. The rest of the Magic went just 3-for-15 from three in the half.
A combination of turnovers and missed shots by the Magic led to a 7-0 Nets run to open the third, pushing the lead to 25 points at 72-47.
James Ennis scored every point during an 11-3 Magic run, capped by back-to-back threes that trimmed the Nets lead to 78-60 with 6:57 left in the third.
The Nets responded to push the lead back over 20, and Michael Carter-Williams (seven third-quarter points) did a good job of attacking the basket and finishing to keep the lead from getting even larger.
Vucevic was held to two points in the quarter on 1 of 6 shooting, and the Magic trailed 92-72 heading into the fourth.
They would soon be down by more than 30 in the fourth.
Irving led the Nets with 27 points and 9 assists on an efficient 11-for-18 shooting night. Harden had 20 points, 9 rebounds and 7 assists. Landry Shamet hit five threes and added 19 points off the bench as Brooklyn shot 53.3% from the field, making 20 of 45 three-point attempts.
Vucevic finished with 28 points (12-for-23) and 12 rebounds. Fournier (8 points on 3-for-9 shooting) and Terrence Ross (5 points on 1-for-9 shooting) both struggled for the second straight game, which is always recipe for disaster for the Magic. The two both went 1 of 5 from deep as the Magic combined finished just 8-for-34 on threes. Orlando overall shot 40.7% from the field and had 18 turnovers that generated an easy 24 points for the Nets.
Interesting rotation note: Mo Bamba got the bulk of the playing time at back-up center, getting 13 minutes compared to just six for Khem Birch.
Ennis had 15 points on a perfect shooting night, and MCW added 11 points and 5 assists for the Magic, who have now dropped two straight after their three-game winning streak.
Things actually get even more challenging for the Magic. They’ll take on the team with the best record in the NBA on Saturday when they host the 26-6 Utah Jazz.