By John Denton
November 9, 2012
ORLANDO -- Down two starters and struggling to find any source of consistent offense whatsoever, the Orlando Magic certainly could have used a few freebies Friday night against the re-tooled Brooklyn Nets.
The Magic threatened a couple of NBA records Friday night by going 43 minutes without a made free throw before finally sinking four during a fourth quarter that ended up being mostly garbage time. Orlando’s four made free throws tied the previous franchise low set in 2003 against the New Orleans Hornets.
Brooklyn took advantage of the Magic’s sputtering offense and makeshift defense with a 20-2 burst in the third quarter and rolled to a 107-68 defeat of Orlando at the Amway Center. It was the first time the Nets had beaten the Magic since April of 2009, ending Orlando’s 10-game win streak against the franchise formerly based in New Jersey.
``We’ve got to drive the ball, try to get easy baskets and try to get to the free throw line. We just didn’t put pressure on them and took a lot of jump shots,’’ said Magic power forward Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis, who had eight points and five assists in 32 minutes. ``We’ve got to compete harder. We just didn’t compete in this game.’’
For the Magic (2-3), it was a third straight defeat following two stirring wins to the open the season. Orlando fought hard on Tuesday in Chicago before falling in the fourth quarter. But Wednesday’s loss in Minnesota and Friday’s at home to the Nets (2-2) were ugly because of Orlando’s sloppy play and rebounding woes against bigger frontlines.
The same two teams actually play again Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn at the $1 billion Barclays Center. Tipoff is at 3 p.m. Some of the Magic players said they were actually glad that they play the Nets again because it will give them an accurate gauge of their ability to rebound from a lopsided loss.
``We’ve got a lot to work on with defense being the main issue,’’ said Arron Afflalo, who scored 12 points. ``But the good thing is that we play that team on Sunday, so I think it will be a great chance for us to see if we can truly learn. Hopefully, we grow from tonight.’’ E’Twaun Moore led the Magic with 18 points and four 3-pointers. Orlando hit just 42.9 percent of its shots, got outrebounded 48-35 and got outscored 46-30 on second-chance points.
Brooklyn got a combined 29 points, 19 rebounds and four blocks from centers Brook Lopez (14 points and 10 rebounds) and Andray Blatche (15 points and nine boards). The Nets led by just two after a quarter and only by seven early in the third period before running away with the game in the later stages of the second half.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn was disappointed with just about every aspect of the game from his team, stressing that Orlando has to get back to playing harder and playing together if it is going to win games like these.
``You have to be committed to execution,’’ Vaughn said. ``Not every other play, not every fourth play, but every single play. You have to cut hard every single play and you have to screen every single play for us to have success. And when we are not committed it shows. It’s pretty simple.’’
And if would help if the Magic would get a few freebie points from the foul line. The Magic went the first 43 minutes with just two free throw attempts and no makes. The Toronto Raptors were the only team in NBA history to not make a free throw in a game, doing so in 1996.
None of the Magic’s five starters made a free throw in the game. Rookies Andrew Nicholson (10 points and three rebounds) and Kyle O’Quinn (two points, three rebounds and two blocks) had Orlando’s only free throw makes. Overall, Orlando’s eight free throw attempts barely eclipsed the franchise low of six tries against Philadelphia last April.
``I think we had zero free throw attempts at halftime and they were the aggressors,’’ Vaughn said. ``Brooklyn came out and played extremely well. They were coming off two losses as well and they showed a desire to fight and to try to get a win.’’
Injuries to two of the Magic starters are catching up to the team following the fast start to the season. Point guard Jameer Nelson missed his fourth consecutive game with a strained hamstring/groin combination and hopes to be back by early next week. Hedo Turkoglu, who broke a bone in his left hand in the opener and is expected to be out three more weeks, rode a stationary bike early in the day on Friday in hopes of staying in shape.
Down 50-36 at the half, Orlando seemed poised to get back into the game by scoring the first seven points of the third period. But Brooklyn coach Avery Johnson never called a timeout and his squad responded with a 20-2 run to blow the game wide open. The Magic got whipped on the glass during much of the run as Brooklyn had 12 offensive rebounds and 16 second-chance points through three quarters.
``Defense is the key. When you get the stops it allows you to push the ball, get out and run a little more,’’ Afflalo said. ``We’ll focus on defense Sunday against a team that we will be very familiar with in less than 48 hours from now.’’
The Magic didn’t help matters by turning the ball over 13 times and shooting just 43.6 percent in the first three quarters of the game. With Davis and Nikola Vucevic shut down on the inside, the Magic had to resort to jump shots and didn’t find much success.
Orlando trailed 50-36 at the break after having troubles on both ends of the floor. The Magic had trouble getting much going offensively as Davis continued to struggle to finish inside against taller players. Afflalo and Moore had 10 points apiece in the first half, but they needed a combined 17 shots to do so.
The Magic got off to a flat start, missing 10 of their first 12 shots and having troubles guarding Brooklyn center Brook Lopez on the inside early in the game. The center, who the Magic declined in a trade offer last summer, scored nine of the Nets’ first 13 points.
Orlando did get the game tied later in the first quarter, but it was the Brooklyn bench that did a number on the Magic in the second period. Thirty-eight-year-old Jerry Stackhouse dominated his matchup against 19-year-old Maurice Harkless by hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 11 first-half points.
Davis likes the fact that the Magic face the Nets again on Sunday. Knowing the quality of the opponent dead ahead will help the Magic hone in on making adjustments and getting better for Sunday’s game in Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, Davis stressed.
``Now, they think they can beat us bad and we haven’t even shown them yet that we can play,’’ Davis said. ``We haven’t shown them anything yet. But we’ll remember this and we’ll go out there on Sunday and play as hard as we can.’’
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