Magic Outlast Nets in Battle of Shorthanded Teams

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

The Lead

Two severely shorthanded teams squared off at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday. The side that had the tallest player prevailed. That man, 33-year-old Robin Lopez, was also the oldest player in the game, and his low-post finesse at 7 feet overwhelmed the Nets much of the night in the Orlando Magic’s 100-93 victory.

Clutch Moments

Chuma Okeke, who scored 15 points, buried a go-ahead 3-pointer with 1:11 left and then blocked David Duke Jr.’s layup attempt on Brooklyn’s subsequent possession. The next trip down the floor, Franz Wagner got a floater to fall despite a couple Nets players attempting to strip the ball away from him as he was in the air.

Top Performers

The Nets just simply didn’t have enough size up front to keep Lopez, a 14-year NBA veteran, away from his sweet spots, where he made several baby hooks. He recorded season highs of 20 points and 10 rebounds. Although he had an off-shooting night, making just four of his 14 attempts, Wagner notched his first double-double of his career with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He also dished out six assists. It seems like only a matter of time before he notches his first NBA triple-double.

Injury/Health Report

In the NBA’s health and safety protocols for the Magic were R.J. Hampton, Terrence Ross, Moe Wagner, Mo Bamba and Ignas Brazdeikis. Kevin Durant, James Harden, LaMarcus Aldridge, Paul Millsap, Jevon Carter, James Johnson, Bruce Brown, DeAndre’ Bembry and Day’Ron Sharpe were in the same situation for the Nets. On the injury front, Wendell Carter Jr. (right lower leg muscle strain), Cole Anthony (sprained right ankle), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Markelle Fultz (left knee), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain), and Jalen Suggs (fractured right thumb) were out for Orlando. Joe Harris (left ankle) and Nic Claxton (wrist) were unavailable for Brooklyn.

This Day in History

There were many impressive Magic wins during the 2008-09 season. One of them came on Dec. 18, 2008, when they held the Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili-led San Antonio Spurs to just 78 points. Jameer Nelson, named an All-Star that season, scored 24 points for the Magic, while Rashard Lewis had 15 in Orlando’s victory.

Rivals Report

Although currently in the league’s health and safety protocols, Kyrie Irving will be rejoining the Nets for road games when he returns. Being unvaccinated prevents him from playing in home games due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Meanwhile, is the league MVP to this point of the season Durant or his former Golden State Warriors teammate Stephen Curry? Most years, it’s clear who’s going to receive the honor by around the halfway point of the season. It’s probably going to come down to the wire between those two this year.

Quote of the Night

“I can recall a couple times when Brooklyn would go on a run and somebody like Gary (Harris), someone like Chuma or Franz would pull everybody together and get in the huddle. That’s something that Moe Wagner always talks about. But that was great. When it got tough, we didn’t splinter. That’s very important for a young team. That’s very important for any team.” - Lopez

Up Next

The Magic’s three-game road trip continues with a visit north of the border, where they will take on the Toronto Raptors on Monday at 7:30 p.m. Another relatively young team, the Raptors have been up and down to this point of the season. Saturday they were hosting the Warriors and won handedly. But the Warriors sat Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins, and Jordan Poole was in the league’s health and safety protocols. Fred VanVleet led Toronto with 27 points, while Scottie Barnes had 21.