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Winnable game for Brooklyn turns into disappointment in Orlando, 118-111

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NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Orlando Magic Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Nets trip to Orlando was bittersweet. They enjoyed their time at Disney, but not so much at the Amway Center against the Orlando Magic.

In a back and forth game, Orlando (12-16) prevailed against Brooklyn (7-18), 118-111, Friday night. With the loss, the Nets have yet to win consecutive games this season and drop to 1-11 on the road. Young teams typically struggle on the road and understandably so, but this was a very winnable game for Brooklyn who had Jeremy Lin back in the lineup.

Lin’s impact was felt right from the start. He came off the bench at the 4:14 mark of the first quarter and lifted the Nets on a 10-0 run. He raises the team’s IQ by putting the rest of the players in their normal positions. Not to mention his ability to organize and create on both sides of the ball makes the Nets an imposing matchup despite their losing record. He scored 17 points and dished three assists in 20 minutes of action.

Behind a jolt from Lin and a stellar 10-point half from Brook Lopez, the Nets controlled the tempo up until the final few minutes. Nikola Vucevic kept Orlando within reach and scored 11 points in the 2nd quarter, giving Orlando a 53-52 halftime lead.

The Nets had several chances to break the game open. They started the third quarter on a 14-4 run giving them a 9-point lead, however, the Magic took advantage of the Nets’ porous defense and kept this thing swinging back and forth, a one-point game heading into the fourth.

To the fourth quarter we went, with the game going back and forth as they were throughout the entire game. Both teams went on mini runs, but failed to fully capitalize when they had the opportunities to do so.

But somebody had to win… right?

The Magic led 110-108 with two minutes remaining. This is where the Nets have struggled all season: closing out games.

As they did tonight.

Evan Fournier (21 points) hit a huge 3-pointer on the next possession to go up five with less than a minute remaining in the game. The Nets missed on the next two possessions and allowed Orlando to go on a 9-2 run during the most crucial point of the game. A game that was once tied at 106 apiece, turned into a near double-digit win for Orlando.

Icing on the cake: Brook Lopez fouled out with 20 seconds remaining. Lopez finished with 22 points, six rebounds and five blocked shots. The five blocks match a season-high and he’s scored 20 or more points in three consecutive games.

The Nets, who came off a convincing 107-97 victory over the Lakers, allowed Orlando to score 65 points in the second half, 35 in the fourth quarter. Orlando shot 40 percent from the field and 24 percent from 3-point, but they protected the ball (seven turnovers) and came away with the big buckets when they needed them most.

Nikola Vucevic (official Nets killer) finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Serge Ibaka had a line of 18 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots.

Brooklyn shot 47 percent from the field and 40 percent from 3-point. They had another solid night at the line (22-of-26), but turned the ball over 21 times and committed 32 personal fouls — a crucial aspect of the loss late in the game.

Aside from Lopez’s 22 and Lin’s 17, starting wingmen Bojan Bogdanovic scored 15 points and Sean Kilpatrick scored 13.

WHITEHEAD CONTINUES TO IMPROVE

Isaiah Whitehead was recently ranked eighth among rookies. For a second-round pick, that’s quite impressive. Whitehead continues to improve with time, finishing with a carer-high eight assists in 24 minutes (+4). It’ll be interesting to watch Whitehead play combo guard alongside Jeremy Lin when things are back to normal.

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Another winnable game for the Nets, who gave up 118 points to a team that averages less than 97 points per game (29th in the NBA). The Nets continue to make things interesting -- especially down the stretch — but they failed to walk away with victory on the road... again. The process is progress and we’ve already seen it with several players thus far. But still, who likes losing these winnable games? Rebuilding or not.

Next up: Nets @ 76ers on Sunday, 6pm.