Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic

Preview: Brooklyn Nets vs. Orlando Magic

Update (Jan 2, 2018):

Nets defeated Magic, 98-95 at the Barclays Center behind 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks from guard Allen Crabbe plus 15 points, 10 rebounds, 2 assists from forward DeMarre Carroll. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had 13 and 7, rookie Jarrett Allen finished with a career-high 16 points along with 6 rebounds and 2 blocks. Caris LaVert had a stellar game coming off the bench with 15 points, 2 steals, 8 assists, and 5 rebounds.

For the Magic, Aaron Gordon had a game-high 20 points along with 12 boards. Evan Fournier had 13, Jonathon Simmons scored 13 and  5 boards, Bismack Biyombo finished with 13 and 17 rebounds (game-high) plus 3 blocks. Elfid Payton had a nice game in loss with 17, 2 steals, 7 assists, and 4 boards. Marreese Speights chipped in with 7 points and 8 boards off the bench.

The Nets are now 3-5 when playing the second game of a back-to-back and 9-0 when their opponents scored under 100 points.

“I wish that reporter was here that kept telling us that we were not good on back-to-backs,” coach Kenny Atkinson said jokingly. “I wanted to thank him for motivating us.”

The Brooklyn Nets (13-23) begin 2018 with a home game against the Orlando Magic (12-25). The Nets will start the New Year playing eight out of their first ten games at home in the Barclays Center. Brooklyn is 7-10 at home this season (they played two games in Mexico City against Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat were they’re recognized as the home team).

The Nets are coming off a 108-105 road loss to the Boston Celtics on New Year’s Eve. The team ended their five-game road trip with a 1-4 record and are only 2-8 in the last ten games.

“We’re obviously on a better pace in terms of getting wins than last year, right? So, there’s improvement,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “The next step is to be a little more consistent. I tell our guys I’d grade us as a below-average team, we’re not in that average window yet.”

The lone bright spot in this stretch of losing has been the play of third-year player and forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.  The 22-year old and former first round pick (23rd overall pick in the 2015 draft) has averaged 16.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.6 assists in the past ten games. He had 22 points (team-high) and 12 rebounds (game-high) in the loss against the Celtics.

“We’ve been a really resilient group in general. A lot of these guys have chips on their shoulders due to their respective paths, so there’s definitely no quit in us,” [guard Spencer]Dinwiddie said. “We just have to close games

Overall, Jefferson is averaging 15.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.1 assists this season in 28.1 minutes (33 games played, 32 as a starter). He is shooting 49.5 percent from the field (32.1% on three-pointers) and 80.3% at the foul line.

This homestand will also include eight back-to-back games. Brooklyn has six consecutive defeats on the second night of back-to-back games.

“The mark of a good team is to consistently be able to get those wins and play the way we need to play regardless of when it is — early game, late game, back-to-back, non-back-to-back, third in four days — we need to be able to get those,” said Dinwiddie.

Brooklyn is eighth in points per team with 107.4 (108.7 points at home on 43.9% shooting and 34.7% on three-pointers), 13th in assists (22.8), tied for fourth in rebounds (45.5), and 26th in points allowed (110.0).

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