Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 128, Brooklyn Nets 118

Evan Fournier tore up the Brooklyn Nets defense to help the Orlando Magic to a big win. (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images)
Evan Fournier tore up the Brooklyn Nets defense to help the Orlando Magic to a big win. (Photo by Ashley Landis - Pool/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic withstood an early defensive struggle to burst through and rout the Brooklyn Nets in their opening seeding round game.

38. 118. 147. Final. 128

The Orlando Magic looked ragged to open the game. Nothing seemed to click and they looked every bit the sluggish team that had not played in four months. This team was still seeking its identity and not finding anything in reserve.

The Brooklyn Nets dropped 39 points in the first quarter, gliding into the lane with ease and victimizing the Orlando Magic’s pick and roll defense. They looked disorganized and no getting into the ball. Every buzz word Steve Clifford uses to describe his team when it is not playing good defense.

The Magic’s offense kept its spark long enough. But how long would that last without defense?

The Magic would not have to wait long to answer that question. Their defense tightened up and then suddenly, they were zooming past the Nets for the critical win.

Orlando took a close game in the second quarter and blew it open. The Magic raced out to an 11-point lead by the end of the second quarter, using a scoring spurt from Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic. They kept it going into the third quarter.

In the end, the Magic went on a 26-10 run to break the game open. Evan Fournier kept hitting from the outside, scoring 11 points in a 41-point quarter that staked the Magic as much as a 30-point lead. Orlando’s bench gave much of it away going scoreless the final seven minutes of the fourth quarter in a 128-118 win. The deficit only making things look closer than they appeared.

Orlando claimed the inside track to the 7-seed with a dominant performance. A thorough rout of the Nets.

The Magic held the Nets to 47-percent shooting and 8-for-28 from beyond the arc through three quarters, where the Magic had a 29-point lead. It became a defensive clinic. The Nets struggled to hit shots or do much to stop the Magic.

Orlando kept its saving grace throughout the game, attacking and getting to the foul line throughout. The Magic made 25 of 28 free throws, keeping their foot on the pedal to attack. That set up some strong outside shooting — 11 for 31 from deep.

The Magic certainly will see plenty they need to work on. They will see plenty they have to fix before their next game, especially on defense. But again, Orlando found its energy and found the stops to get over the top.

A-. Evan Fournier was a big catalyst offensively in the second and third quarter. Once he got going, it was hard for the Brooklyn Nets to find many answers. He was just not someone they could stop consistently. He does such a good job weaving in and out of defenses and attacking drop coverages. He had the Nets on skates most of the game.<p>Fournier scored 24 points, making 10 of his 15 shots. He showed no signs of his sometimes sluggish scrimmage run. Fournier was reliable offensively throughout. <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER

B+. <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC

Looking for a player who truly changed the tenor and outcome of this game? Look at <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. KHEM BIRCH. A+

F. Orlando Magic. JONATHAN ISAAC. A+. <a href=

BROOKLYN NETS. C+. The Brooklyn Nets are playing shorthanded. It is clear as they struggled to create consistent offense after the initial burst. They can certainly shoot and they are not afraid to go for it from deep. But with only one center in Jarrett Allen, it was difficult to get much of a pick-and-roll game going.<p>The Nets just could not find much offensive rhythm after the big burst. And their defense was virtually non-existent throughout the game. Orlando got whatever it wanted until the deep bench players came in during garbage time in the fourth quarter. That was about the only breath the Nets took all game.</p><p>It is hard to say what more Brooklyn can do. Maybe some more pick and roll or hitting more shots. But once Orlando locked in, it was over for the Nets.</p>. 30-35. 8th East

Next. Jonathan Isaac's return gives Orlando Magic new hope. dark

The Orlando Magic are now seventh in the Eastern Conference. They return to action Sunday against the Sacramento Kings.