Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 115, Brooklyn Nets 113

The Orlando Magic got their defense right as they swarmed the Brooklyn Nets in a comeback win.(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic got their defense right as they swarmed the Brooklyn Nets in a comeback win.(Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic rallied in the second half to erase a 19-point deficit and defeat the Brooklyn Nets, securing a big win in the playoff chase.

38. 113. 147. Final. 115

The Orlando Magic were lost.

They were lethargic and slow offensively. Their defense was giving up easy runs to the lane and leaving Nikola Vucevic on an island in his weakest spot. Not that he was doing any better either.

The Brooklyn Nets were ready to rout the Orlando Magic and put their stamp on the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Magic’s slide was going to continue.

Nikola Vucevic was not happy. After giving up an offensive rebound and failing to close out on Joe Harris‘ 3-pointer to put the Nets up 19 in the third quarter, he was clearly frustrated. For the first time, it seemed it boiled over.

FOX Sports Florida’s Dante Marchitelli reported Nikola Vucevic tore into his teammates, saying the team keeps saying the right things but is not doing them. This has been the common refrain throughout the season. He reported it was time for it to stop.

It had to start with Vucevic. And he put in 12 points the rest of the quarter. The Magic had inched back into the game. And suddenly the spark was there.

It was Terrence Ross‘ turn to lead the comeback, catching fire all of a sudden, reminding everyone of the Human Torch who led the team on countless comebacks during last year’s playoff run.

Then came Aaron Gordon, hitting all seven of his shots in the fourth quarter including a pull-up jumper to give the Magic a one-point lead with 1:15 to play and a step-back 3-pointer to give them a four-point lead.

He put an exclamation on things with a block on Caris LeVert, sliding over perfectly as LeVert thought he had a free lane to the basket. The Magic had to hang on one more time, contesting a Taurean Prince three at the buzzer to cement the comeback win 115-113 at the Barclays Center on Monday.

The Magic found the spark they had been missing for so long and picked up a win they could really be proud of. That is something to build off of finally.

Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B-. Nikola Vucevic deserves a lot of credit for the Orlando Magic’s turnaround. He flipped the game around both with his words and, more importantly, with his actions. It was not about his statistics — he had a fairly modest 16 points on 7-for-15 shooting to go with 10 rebounds and five assists. It was about the control he took in the game to pick up everyone’s energy. This is the kind of leadership the Magic have needed from their best player. It lifted everyone up.<p>Vucevic still struggled with his shot of course. He missed his share of open and easy shots throughout the game. It was not a perfect game. Leadership does not always require a perfect game. It merely requires that he provides what the team needs to give them the tools to succeed. Vucevic’s third-quarter run was exactly that.</p><p>To that point, the game was an absolute struggle for him. The Magic’s poor perimeter defense consistently put him on an island. He was decent contesting shots at the basket, but consistently lost contact on <a href=. C

F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON. A-. Like Nikola Vucevic, <a href=

A. The Orlando Magic have struggled to get <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS

G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER. B. <a href=

7th East. BROOKLYN NETS. B-. The Brooklyn Nets have staked their spot in the playoff race thanks to a ton of 3-point shooting and a defense that gets after teams and forces turnovers. That was the formula they used to take the lead and they hit plenty of 3-pointers throughout the game — 16 of 37 to be exact.<p>But the Nets could not force turnovers consistently in the second half. And suddenly the Magic’s shots started to go in. That is when Orlando started to feel confidence and started to build momentum. The Magic started attacking the paint a lot more and the Nets did not have any answers.</p><p>This game came down to who was playing most aggressively. The team that played on the attack was the one that took control. The Magic had that control in the second half and their defense left the Nets scrambling a bit. Brooklyn still had its chances. The Nets just could not get inside consistently enough or get to the foul line to stem the suddenly surging tide.</p>. 26-30

The Orlando Magic are now 25-32, 1.5 games behind the Brooklyn Nets for seventh and 4.5 games ahead of the Washington Wizards for the final playoff spot.

Next. Steve Clifford is always instructing as he seeks answers. dark

The Orlando Magic return to action Wednesday as they wrap up their season series with the Atlanta Hawks in Atlanta.