Orlando Magic Grades: Brooklyn Nets 129, Orlando Magic 92

The Orlando Magic could not contain the Brooklyn Nets' offensive juggernaut as they got buried in teir own mistakes. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
The Orlando Magic could not contain the Brooklyn Nets' offensive juggernaut as they got buried in teir own mistakes. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /

38. 129. 147. Final. 92

For a quarter, it was going so well.

The Orlando Magic got the ball to Nikola Vucevic and let him do work on the inside. They moved the ball effectively to open shooters. Their defense contained and controlled ball handlers and contested shots.

The Magic led 28-24 after one quarter. They were in tune with the gameplan and playing with the focus and intensity they needed to win.

Then it all stopped. As coach Steve Clifford broke the lineup, the Magic stopped playing with that intensity and focus. Their rotations got loose as they gave up more open 3-pointers. And the turnovers. . . oh, the turnovers.

That did not even get to the clincial performances Kyrie Irving and James Harden put in to spark a 41-point second quarter that blew the game open.

The Magic got plenty from Nikola Vucevic, but did not have enough offense otherwise to keep up in a 129-92 loss to the Nets at Barclays Center on Thursday.

Orlando continued its cold shooting and forced play from Tuesday’s game as the team dove deeper into the hole. The Magic committed 18 turnovers for 24 points in the game, including 11 for 16 points in the first half.

Against a high-powered offensive team like the Nets, those mistakes are . The margin for error was simply too small to play that way and with that many mistakes. Especially with how quickly and decisively Brooklyn can score.

But the Magic once again could not generate any offense. Outside of Vucevic’s 28 points and 12 rebounds, the team could not get much of anything else going offensively. Both Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross again struggled to shoot — going a combined 4 for 18 from the floor and 2 for 10 from deep.

It will be difficult to win against a regular team with those two players struggling to shoot that much. It is even more difficult against an elite team like the Nets.

For the Magic, it was simply too many mistakes and too many things going wrong to steal a win.

. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B+

There is not a whole lot more that Nikola Vucevic can do in a game like this. The Orlando Magic knew they had a big advantage inside with Vucevic and went to him again and again. They were going to play completely through him and work from there. And he delivered with 28 points and 12 rebounds on 12-for-23 shooting. The Magic led early with Vucevic in the game and only started to fall apart when he came out.

There is not much more of an endorsement that anyone can give of him. The Magic are quite simply passable with him in the game and non-functioning when he is not. Vucevic gave into the frustration of the game as the team’s defense became completely undone. He lost contact on DeAndre Jordan on a few lobs and lost some fight defensively. But 30-point losses will do that, even if they should not.

. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER. D

The Orlando Magic simply are not going to win any games if Evan Fournier is not scoring. At least not with how the roster is currently constructed. Steve Clifford said it best after the game, the Magic have zero margin for error. So when they were winning, Fournier was scoring and everything looked great. Now? For a second straight game, Fournier simply could not score and seemed out of sorts offensively.

Fournier finished the game with eight points on 3-for-9 shooting. He made just one of his five 3-pointers. Brooklyn’s switching defense definitely had something to do with it. Orlando struggles against teams that are able to switch easily since they have really no players who can win one-on-one matchups off the dribble. But Fournier is a key guy and a big part of the perimeter attack. In this game, he was just absent. Even taking just nine shots is a poor sign even on a bad shooting night.

B+. . G/F. Orlando Magic. JAMES ENNIS

Steve Clifford revealed after the game that James Ennis is playing hurt, still dealing a bit with the calf strain that knocked him out of the game toward the end of the team’s West Coast road trip. That makes his efforts still a bit more heroic. He is playing well and grinding and getting after things. Even with the Magic down big at the half, James Ennis was still fighting.

Orlando is going to need a lot of fight if this is going to be another rough patch and another rough finish to the season as everyone seems to expect. The Magic have a lot of work to do. Ennis providing some lift will help a lot. He scored 15 points on 5-for-5 shooting. That is the kind of energy the team will need. It is too bad he was limited to just 15 minutes.

C. . C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA

Coach Steve Clifford said after the game Mohamed Bamba is going to get some playing time to try to get the young center back into a rhythm. He said it was clear that he is still building up his conditioning to play. That is less conditioning in terms of stamina and more conditioning in terms of seeing the game and being up to speed. It is evident how much Mohamed Bamba is out of game rhythm at the moment.

Bamba played 13 minutes as the primary backup center in the game. He scored only two points and grabbed four rebounds. It was not an impressive statistical game. It was also not an overly impressive visible game either. He is still biting on pump fakes and is a magnet for fouls. That just shows he is late to his spots defensively. A lot of that will need to be corrected as he plays more and it sounds like the Magic are willing to play him more. But Bamba will need to show measurable progress if he is playing more.

A-. . 22-12. 2nd East. BROOKLYN NETS

I am simply docking the Brooklyn Nets half a letter grade for a poor first quarter. It was not like this game was ever in doubt, right? The Nets just coasted through this one. They played with some intensity and renewed focus defensively to stifle the Orlando Magic and provide some resistance to their execution. They got into passing lanes and forced turnovers, perhaps surprising the Magic some after how easily things came to them early in the game.

But this was always Brooklyn’s game to win or lose. The Magic just do not have the firepower to keep up. So when the Nets are able to convert off turnovers and hit on 53.3-percent of their shots and make 20 3-pointers, the Magic have zero chance. Orlando’s defense was game for about a quarter and a half and then even that fell apart.

Orlando Magic's tough second half schedule will force team in a direction. dark. Next

The Magic are 13-20 and 12th in the Eastern Conference. They return home to face the Western Conference-leading Utah Jazz on Saturday.