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Nets dispose of Magic easily, 97-88

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

The Nets kicked off their final week of the regular season with a 97-88 over the Orlando Magic.

The crowd was fairly electric for a Sunday early evening game against the lowly Magic, but the Nets were not. Brooklyn came out sloppy, committing seven turnovers in the first quarter despite shooting 58% from the floor. The Nets played inside and off of cuts. On the very first play Deron Williams went back-door on Victor Oladipo for an easy finish off the pass from Kevin Garnett.

The highlight of the quarter was when Marcus Thornton threw the ball to nearly the top of the backboard where Mason Plumlee caught and threw it down for a big finish. Still, the Nets porous defense allowed the Magic to shoot 60% from the floor and score 28 points in the first frame. The Nets were only down three, though, 28-25.

The offense slowed down in the second quarter, as the Nets only shot 42% from the floor. However, Brooklyn made much more of a commitment to the defensive end of the floor, holding the Magic to just one-of-five shooting from beyond the arc.

Andray Blatche saw his first action since last Saturday in Philadelphia and played fine. Despite a shaky start, Blatche scored four points on two-of-three shooting in his seven minutes. Mason Plumlee continued his superb stretch of basketball in the second, grabbing three boards and holding down the paint on defense. Plumlee's second quarter action came with Garnett in as well. The combination has played just 74 minutes together, but they could be a successful duo in the front court come the postseason.

Even though the Nets played a more stable brand of basketball in the second quarter, they went into the locker room down 49-46. Plumlee and Joe Johnson led Brooklyn in scoring, each with nine. Kyle O'Quinn also had nine for Orlando.

The second half started a bit grim for the Nets. Paul Pierce took an arm to the lower part of his face from O'Quinn and came out holding his neck area, the same location of his recent "stingers." Pierce did stay on the bench and didn't go back to the locker room, which is a good sign but he didn't come back in the game. Garnett played his usual five minutes shift and was relieved by Plumlee. He too did not return come back in until the middle of the fourth to close the game out.

The Nets defense started out lazy, allowing the Magic to hit two early threes. Then the offense got going. The Nets went on a 14-0 run in three minutes that included a Mirza Teletovic three, DWill three, and a Johnson three, one after another. The run was stopped briefly due to a timeout by the Magic that wasn't called until after rookie Victor Oladipo got called for a technical foul. The Nets pulled ahead by nine, 68-59.

The Nets extended their lead to as much as 13 in the third, but were up nine by the time the third concluded. Teletovic scored eight in the third and had 13 by the time the frame ended. Joe Johnson had 17 by the time the third quarter concluded while Williams and Plumlee had 14. The Nets shot a scorching hot 63% from beyond the arc in the third led behind Williams' three triples.

In the fourth, the Nets put this one on cruise control. Plumlee saw a lot of minutes in the and continued to make them count. He got his fourth double-double of the season grabbing 11 rebounds while scoring 17 points and was a pest on the defensive end. The Magic gave one last spurt to cut the Nets' lead to six halfway through the fourth. Kidd brought back in Williams, Johnson, and Garnett to put the finishing touches on the victory.

The Nets closed this one out and won, 97-88.

The Nets didn't show up until after halftime, as they easily disposed Orlando in the second half. Led behind another stellar game from Plumlee, and quiet scoring assault from Johnson, the Nets boasted their home record to 28-12 on the year. Williams and Teletovic should also be commended for their great play. Williams after a poor first half, turned it on in the third, scoring nine points and stealing it from the Magic three times. Mirza chipped in with a game-high 20 points and six rebounds.

Brooklyn has the fifth seed all but locked up at this point and look to finish the final week strong against two lottery-bound teams, the Knicks and Cavaliers.

For more on the Magic: check out: Orlando Pinstriped Post