Denton's Dish: The 5th Quarter (4/13/14)

Tobias Harris

By John Denton
April 13, 2014

NEW YORK – Trailing by four points halfway through the third quarter, the Brooklyn Nets ripped off a 15-0 run to surge past the Orlando Magic and ultimately win 97-88.

Here are five takeaways from Sunday night’s game from the Barclays Center:

THIRD QUARTER STRUGGLES: Orlando led by as many as eight points early on, had a three-point advantage at halftime and was up a basket with 6 minutes left in the third quarter.

But that’s when Brooklyn veterans Joe Johnson and Deron Williams came alive to ignite the game-turning 15-0 run. Williams (16 points and five assists) and Johnson (17 points and three 3-pointers) combined for 17 points, five 3-pointers, four assists and three steals in the third period alone.

``They went on that (15-0) run and they had the momentum with the threes,’’ Magic forward Kyle O’Quinn said. ``Joe Johnson was hot and we suffered.’’

GLIMMER FROM NICHOLSON: Magic forward Andrew Nicholson has battled confidence issues and a wayward jump shot for months, but he showed signs of life on Sunday night.

When he five of eight shots and scored 12 points it was his first double-digit scoring performance in 56 games. He did have trouble staying with Mirza Teletovic (20 points and four 3-pointers) on the defensive end, but he did chip in two thunderous dunks and seven boards.

``We talked a week-and-a-half ago about trying to get everybody playing well going into the offseason,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``I think ‘Drewski’s physicality has been good as far as contesting shots and getting rebounds. And it looked like his shot flowed pretty well tonight as well.’’

NO NIK THIS SEASON: Magic center Nikola Vucevic reported on Sunday night that the sore left Achilles’ tendon that kept him out of the past four games was feeling much better. Still, he and the Magic medical and coaching staff made the call that the center wouldn’t play the rest of the season for precautionary measures.

With the Magic well out of the playoff picture, it simply made no sense to play Vucevic in a game after he hadn’t practiced or played since April 2. Vucevic was with the team Sunday in Brooklyn and got in an intense pregame workout, but was held out of the game. He admitted that there was some frustration over not being able to play for the final three games, but he understood the decision completely.

``It is frustrating because I won’t be playing and that’s what I love doing – being out there on the court and helping my teammates. So that’s obviously frustrating,’’ Vucevic said. ``But after I talked to coach and all of the medical staff, this is what we agreed on. Now I’ve got to take care (of the Achilles) and make sure that I come back better next year.’’

Vucevic, who averaged 14.4 points and 11 rebounds a game, played in just 57 games this season because of ankle, Achilles and concussion injuries throughout the season. He said that having to stop and start so often was difficult this season, but he felt that he made strides defensively.

``It was tough because it was one thing, it would go away and then it was something else,’’ Vucevic said of his injuries. ``Luckily it wasn’t anything major and it just stuff that I can take care of. Hopefully I won’t have any injuries in the future.’’

TOPIC: A groin injury to veteran guard Jameer Nelson allowed Oladipo to make his 42nd start of the season. That’s both good and bad news for a Magic franchise that has tried to closely monitor the Oladipo’s workload late in this rookie season.

Oladipo came into Sunday having played 2,420 minutes, the second-most on the team to only veteran guard Arron Afflalo. Oladipo’s 31.4 minutes per game are the third most among NBA rookies, trailing Philadelphia’s Michael Carter-Williams (34.5 mpg.) and Utah’s Trey Burke (32 mpg.).

In the three games prior to Sunday night, Oladipo had played just 29, 19 and 16 minutes. Vaughn said that he had been purposefully been trying to cut back Oladipo’s minutes down the stretch. ``Victor has played over 2,400 minutes for us and that’s a lot of minutes for a guy who is a rookie in this league,’’ Vaughn said. ``The reason he hasn’t played as many minutes this last week or so is entirely because he’s played over 2,400 minutes and that’s a lot of minutes. We’ll use other guys on the roster to supplement Jameer’s minutes.’’

Oladipo played well in his 26 minutes on Sunday, hitting five of eight shots and all three of his 3-pointers for 14 minutes. His time on the floor was limited in the second half (8 minutes) so that the Magic could play Ronnie Price and E’Twaun Moore.

``He took those shots and they were available shots,’’ Vaughn said. ``I thought tonight was his best floormanship. He played 25-some-odd minutes. But directing people and getting them into the right spots, hollering when he needs to, picking up a tech – he had a good floormanship game tonight.’’

EXPERIENCE DISCREPANCY: The Nets have spent nearly $200 million (including the luxury tax) to compile a veteran roster and they are headed to the playoffs where they could make some noise in the weakened Eastern Conference. The Magic, however, are still very much in the midst of a rebuilding plan and will miss the playoffs for a second straight season.

A look at Sunday’s starting lineups tells a lot about how the franchises are in dramatically different places in the building process.

The Nets started five veterans – Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Andrei Kirilenko. Those players have a combined 69 years of experience in the NBA.

By comparison, Orlando started two rookies (Victor Oladipo and Dewayne Dedmon), two second-year players (Kyle O’Quinn and Maurice Harkless) and veteran guard Arron Afflalo. That starting five had a combined 13 years of NBA experience.