In their past two games, the Brooklyn Nets discovered difference between facing an elite team in the Golden State Warriors and a team with a respectable record but a depleted roster in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
On Friday, the Nets will face a team many have experienced little difficulties beating when they host Orlando, which is the worst team in the Eastern Conference but also unbeaten in games played in New York.
Brooklyn is coming off a split of its back-to-back set against Golden State and Cleveland. After falling apart in the third quarter to Golden State on Tuesday, the Nets led by as many at 23 and survived a shaky second half in a 109-99 win over Cleveland on Wednesday.
“It wasn’t a good showing for four quarters, but we came away with the win and we just got to keep pushing forward,” Nets guard James Harden said.
The Nets are 9-2 in their past 11 games. The two losses are double-digit defeats that got away from them in the second half against the Chicago Bulls and Warriors, while a bulk of their wins are against inferior teams, including a 123-90 rout in Orlando on Nov. 10 when Kevin Durant made 11 of 12 shots two nights after a 23-point loss in Chicago.
Brooklyn’s key scoring options all bounced back Wednesday as Harden scored 27 and Durant added 23 after shooting 6 of 19 on Tuesday. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 of his 24 in the fourth quarter and Patty Mills contributed 21 in his second straight start in place of Joe Harris (sprained left ankle), who is expected to miss Friday’s game.
It marked the first time the Nets produced four players with at least 20 points, and it occurred after Brooklyn shot a season-worst 38.6 percent. It also occurred on a night when the Nets totaled 29 assists.
The Nets will push forward against an opponent riding high after an impressive fourth quarter in a 104-98 win against the Knicks on Wednesday. Two of Orlando’s four wins are due to strong showings in the final 12 minutes at New York against the Knicks, and the Magic are hoping it can carry over to Brooklyn.
On Wednesday, the Magic snapped a three-game skid that saw them lose by a combined 63 points when they came alive defensively and offensively in the final period.
Orlando shot 57.1 percent in the final 12 minutes and ended the game on an 18-6 run over the final 5:45 on a night in which it shot 40.6 percent overall.
“One thing I will say is we talk about their resilience, their ability not to overreact, not to panic,” Magic first-year coach Jamahl Mosley said after his team forced a season-high 18 turnovers and held an opponent under 100 points for the third time. “They are doing a great job communicating with one another in the huddle. My assistants did a great job of communicating with them the things we needed to do down the stretch.”
Terrence Ross scored 19 points while Orlando’s young trio of Cole Anthony along with rookies Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs combined for 44 points, including 21 of Orlando’s 32 points in the fourth.
–Field Level Media