Tonight, the Brooklyn Nets defeated the Orlando Magic 98-86 in a game where the Nets’ talent and depth clearly outshined the undermanned Magic’s. For the Nets, the stars of the game were Gerald Wallace and Joe Johnson. Wallace buried 5 of 6 threes and Johnson scored 22 points and added 5 assists. Wallace and Johnson played very good perimeter defense together and they limited Arron Afflalo, Moe Harkless, and JJ Redick all night.
For the Nets, Brook Lopez missed the first of two games due to a right foot injury. Also, Jerry Stackhouse did not play because Coach Avery Johnson decided to rest him for the Nets’ contest with the Miami heat tomorrow night. For the Magic, Jameer Nelson did not play due to achilles tendonitis. Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu continue to be inactive and show off fancy suits from the sidelines.
In the first half, the game was usually close, but it felt like the Nets were in control of the game and were primed to make a big run. They simply had more talent on the court. Still, the score was 45-44 Nets at halftime.
The third quarter started off slowly for both teams. After the Magic took a three point lead, Gerald Wallace started to heat up from beyond the arc and spurred the Nets on a big run. Andray Blatche, who started at center in place of Lopez, capped the run off with a nice and-one lay up. At the end of the third quarter, the Nets led 76-65 and never looked back. They extended the lead in the fourth quarter and emptied out the bench for five minutes of garbage time at the end of the game.
For a game box score, click here.
Player grades and notes
Deron Williams: B
Williams had a quiet night, with only 11 points and 7 assists in 30 minutes, but he did enough. He had a big three to help the team pull away and was a +18.
Joe Johnson: A-
Joe Johnson really took advantage of smaller Magic defenders tonight. He repeatedly backed down the likes of JJ Redick, creating good jump shots for himself and setting up teammates, such as Gerald Wallace, for three pointers. He finished with 22 points on 10-16 shooting in over 33 minutes. He also contributed to the Nets outstanding perimeter defense. This was probably Johnson’s most dominant game of the season. He can still be even better and Johnson had a very encouraging performance tonight.
Gerald Wallace: A
Gerald Wallace was on fire from beyond the arc tonight and provided a huge boost to the Nets’ offense, unlike anything I have seen from him as a Net before. He had 20 points on 7-9 shooting and 5-6 from three land. Additionally, his stifling perimeter defense was a factor in this game. It remains a mystery to me why he has struggled so much from the foul line this season.
Kris Humphries: B
Humphries had a nice hump dunk in the third quarter, had some free throws, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. He was 4 of 12 shooting in over 32 minutes of playing time. A solid, typical game for the Hump where he missed some layups.
Andray Blatche: B+
Blatche led the team in +/- tonight with a +19; however, he had some very Wizards-ey moments. In the first half, he chased a ball going out of bounds towards the scorer’s table with a second left on the shot clock and desperately hurled it behind his back, high in the air towards the basket. Obviously, the ball didn’t come anywhere close to the basket and it led to a fast break layup for the Magic. His 14 points and 9 rebounds helped and he probably played better defense on Nikola Vucevic than Brook Lopez would have. Vucevic was unimpressive tonight.
Reggie Evans: A-
Evans had 10 rebounds, 2 steals, and 5 rebounds in 26 minutes tonight. He scored a nice lay-up off a Gerald Wallace pass and had some strong rebounds. Solid performance.
Mirza Teletovic: C
Teletovic’s defense in the limited minutes he saw in the first half was underwhelming. He also missed a few open jumpers. He still isn’t ready to be a serious contributor to this team.
The Nets were clearly the better team tonight. They will be up against the defending champions, the Miami Heat, tomorrow night at 7:30. This will be a good test for the Nets and should be a fun game to watch (especially after tonight’s unexciting contest). We’ll have a preview up shortly.