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Nets continue the homestand vs. the Magic

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Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Close, but not close enough. The Brooklyn Nets cut an 18 point deficit down to two late, but were unable to finish it off and lost to the Los Angeles Clippers at home on Saturday evening. The Nets are 2-2 on their six game homestand and have one more to go after tonight.

The opponent this evening will be the Orlando Magic. Under new coach and former Magic point guard Scott Skiles, Orlando has gotten off to a nice start at 12-11 and are within striking distance of the eighth position in the Conference. They've had a few days off since their last contest, a 35 point beatdown at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night.

Where to follow the game

YES Network on TV (but not in 900,000 homes in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut) and WCBS 880 AM on the radio (The Giants are on Monday Night Football vs the Dolphins so they've got WFAN 101.9 FM tonight. Read Big Blue View for more on the G-Men.) Tip off is after 7:30.

Injuries

Rondae Hollis Jefferson is in recovery mode following surgery last week. Shane Larkin left the Clippers game early after getting poked in the eye. His status for tonight's game is unknown as of this writing.

Tobias Harris missed practice with a lower leg contusion, but all signs point to him playing.

The game

Check the numbers

2015-2016

Brooklyn

Orlando

Record

7-16 12-11

Pace

98.73 98.44

Offensive Efficiency

97.6 99.4

Defensive Efficiency

103.2 99.3

Turnover Rate

15.8 15

Assist Rate

15.8 16.4

Offensive Rebounding Rate

24.7 24.9

Rebound Rate

51.2 50.2

Free Throw Rate

23.2 22

Effective Field Goal Percentage

47.6 48

Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage

51.7 48.1

With a Skiles team, you know you're gonna get excellent defense. So far at least, we're seeing the effects he can have on a club. Orlando's defensive efficiency is six points better than last season's. The Magic's offense has sputtered, but if they can continue to sport a top ten defense, they'll be competitive come April.

Orlando's offense has been pretty terrible. They're near the bottom of the league in offensive efficiency, free throw rate, and effective field goal percentage. It's not all doom and gloom for the Magic, as Cory Hutson of Orlando Pinstriped Post notes:

Until then, this is a defense-first team that'll probably be in a lot of close games the whole season, and maybe that's ok. That's still a huge step forward for a team whose biggest problem a year ago was a lack of identity. As impatient as we are in year four of the rebuild, the Magic are still young, and I suspect we've yet to see their last great evolution.

The Nets are gonna need a much better effort from Brook Lopez. The big fella has turned the ball over 16 times in the last three games and was outplayed by DeAndre Jordan on Saturday. He's Brooklyn's best and most important player, and if he isn't playing up to par, then the team will be in big trouble. He'll be dealing with Nikola Vucevic this evening. Vucevic is a very good center and can draw Lopez away from the basket with his jump shot. Both players are fine low post defenders, so the respective coaches should look to keep them moving instead of just running post ups.

With Larkin's status up in the air, more responsibility will fall on to Jarrett Jack's shoulders. He'll match up with second year point guard Elfrid Payton. Payton has gotten more involved in setting up the offense since Victor Oladipo's move to the bench, and his game has picked up as a result. However, the book on him is still the same as his jump shot has yet to find its mark. If Payton can ever develop a consistent outside shot, the Magic can creep into the upper half of the East.

Evan Fournier has been having a nice season, but has been in a slump over the past nine games. Across that stretch, he's only shooting 37.8 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from three point range. I wouldn't worry too much about it as Fournier has shot well from the outside in his four year career. Bojan Bogdanovic has done well in the starting lineup and as long as he's looking for his shot and involved in the offense, he'll continue to help the Nets.

Player to watch: Victor Oladipo

The former number two pick had been starting ever since he came into the league in 2013, but was sent to the bench a month ago. It's easy to see why Skiles decided to go in that direction, as Vic was shooting 37 percent from the field and 26 percent from three point range in the starting five. Coming off the bench, he's had a bigger role in creating offense for his teammates and his game has picked up accordingly. He's shooting 42 percent from the field coming off the bench and is getting to the free throw line twice as many times as compared to when he was starting. He's only shooting 48 percent at the rim, and Orlando will need him to improve on that and begin to fully take advantage of opportunities at the basket.

Thanks to RHJ's injury, Markel Brown has found himself back in the rotation. Brown racked up ten DNPs in November, and has appeared in every game this month. For a team that lacks in perimeter defenders, Brown is the best of the bunch and as a second year player on a team bereft of young talent and picks, needs to see the court as much as possible.

From the Vault

In 2002, Kenyon Martin constantly found himself in trouble with the league office. Plays like these were a big part of the reason why:

More reading: Orlando Pinstriped Post