The Nets (24-51) struggled in the fourth quarter in their past three games, but they responded in a big way on Wednesday against the Magic (22-52).
Brooklyn broke out of its three-game skid by beating Orlando 111-104 at the Amway Center. The team appeared to tackle its recent struggles with defense, turnovers and rebounding as it had advantages against its opponents in all three areas.
D’Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert led Brooklyn in scoring with 16 points apiece. Nikola Vucevic paced the Magic with 24 points and 15 rebounds. The Nets will now travel to Miami to face the Heat (40-35) in a Saturday night clash.
Here’s Three Observations From the Game:
DLo Dropping Dimes
The Nets’ starters were all in double-digit scoring and D’Angelo Russell played a big part with 12 assists and just two turnovers.
The latter part is especially significant for Russell, who has struggled with giving away the ball at times during the season. Prior to his injury on Nov. 11, he was averaging 4.0 turnovers per game and since his return, he’s had a few games of five or more turnover. However, in his past five games, he’s shown plenty of improvement in his decision-making. He’s been averaging 7.6 assists and just 2.4 turnovers during that span.
What might be even more impressive is the fact that Russell is still dropping highlight-worthy assists, but he’s just picking and choosing the right moments to do so. Check out this assist below:
Defensive Improvement and Rebounding Key
When the Magic went on a 14-4 run in the third quarter, it appeared as if it would be more of the same from Brooklyn.
The Nets saw a 15-point lead cut to just four heading into the fourth quarter, which was similar to their previous games against Toronto and Cleveland – both losses. Yet, Brooklyn’s defense responded in dramatic fashion in the final 12 minutes.
Orlando wouldn’t convert a field goal for six minutes as the Nets lead swelled up to 19 points. The team was relentless in denying opportunities in the post and cutting drives to the basket.
Rebounding was another area where the Nets appeared to take some steps forward. The Nets outmuscled on the boards (48-44) and points in the paint (54-52). DeMarre Carroll was a big catalyst towards the team's edge in rebounding as he led the Nets with 12 boards.
Jarrett Allen Back to His Best
One of the biggest beneficiaries of Russell’s playmaking was Allen, who broke out of a recent cold patch to drop 15 points and eight rebounds.
In the past 10 games, the 19-year-old was averaging just 7.4 points and 5.8 rebounds – a dip from his scoring February, where he was averaging 12.9 points and 6.8 boards. Some of that is down to Allen hitting the inevitable rookie wall, so it was promising to see him have an assertive performance against a solid veteran in Vucevic.