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Nets fall apart late as Gordon has career night, 125-121

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

The number 41 continues to haunt the Nets.

First it was Nikola Vucevic who burned the Nets with 41 points and 12 rebounds Friday in Brooklyn. This time it was Aaron Gordon who had a career night with 41 points and a go-ahead 3-pointer late in the game.

Gordon put a dagger in Brooklyn’s heart with his last shot, propelling Orlando to a 125-121 victory over the Nets Tuesday in Orlando. It was Brooklyn’s fifth straight loss in Orlando and second loss on the road. They’re back home tomorrow against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“We were that close. Man, we were that close,” said D’Angelo Russell. “I feel like with this team we have we can score. We’ve got to limit our mistakes throughout the game, our own mistakes. I feel like we kind of gave it to them. They didn’t force us into the mistakes that we made.”

Chalk it up as a lesson learned for the young Nets, who were outscored 38-25 in the fourth quarter.

They looked to be pulling away in this tightly contested game thanks to a 21-9 run and 35-point third quarter, at one point grabbing a 12-point lead behind D’Angelo Russell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, but Gordon was simply too much.

Orlando wouldn’t go away and regained the lead 112-110 following an 8-0 run. It was Brooklyn’s game to lose... which they did.

Down by one point with possession, Allen Crabbe missed an open 3-pointer, but DeMarre Carroll stole it back and put the Nets back up by one.

Hope was back.

But then, Aaron Gordon nailed his fifth point of the fourth quarter - a 3-pointer to put Orlando up two with 33 seconds left. On the following possession, D’Angelo Russell missed a three-pointer and then turned the ball over with 18 seconds left. The Magic sealed the deal at the line as Brooklyn missed three consecutive 3-pointers, including a wide-open look for Allen Crabbe.

Gordon is a 29 percent 3-point shooter over the span of his four-year career. He shot 5-of-5 from deep in this one.

It was not a great night for Crabbe. After finishing with 20 points in Sunday’s victory over Atlanta, Crabbe struggled and shot just 2-of-10 from the field, 1-of-6 from deep. He had several open looks but simply didn’t hit.

On the other hand, Russell started the night with four three-pointers in the span of six minutes. He finished the rest of the night 0-of-5 from that point on.

Russell finished with 29 points on 9-of-24 shooting. He came up with two steals and five rebounds, but had only one assist, albeit a beauty to Timofey Mozgov, and turned the ball over three times – an issue since he took over the full-time point guard duty. Unlike the last two games, both wins, Russell didn’t hit the big shot this time. Instead, he turned it over.

“Man, the wrong time to turn the ball over. Crucial play [of] the game. I thought we got the looks that we wanted throughout the game; just came up a little short, said Russell who had only one assist.”

After four games, D-Lo is averaging 23 points, 5.5 assists, 4.5 rebounds, 1.8 steals, but 4.3 turnovers. Overall, he’s shooting 47.3 percent and 39 percent from deep.

The other young guns of Brooklyn played well. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson finished with 18 points and five rebounds, while Caris LeVert had 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Carroll also chipped in 18. Every player who logged minutes scored at least one bucket, a reoccurring theme with this balanced attack.

For Orlando, Evan Fournier had a big night along with Gordon, scoring 28 points on 9-of-15 shooting.

Defense continues to be a big problem for Brooklyn, allowing more than 110 points in all four games thus far. They sent Orlando to the free throw line 40 times (!) and allowed them to shoot 50 percent from the field.

The Nets also only had 21 assists to their 121 points. The ball isn’t moving the way it should be.

“I think it’s a team issue,” said Kenny Atkinson “We’ve got to move the ball better. It’s too much one-on-one, and we’ve got to move it, have better player movement. I think that was part of the problem at the end of the game.”

NOTES

· Through the first three games, the Nets were first in the NBA scoring 124 per game and 2nd in pace.. They nailed 12-of-35 from 3-point range.

· The Nets are the 1st team since 1985-86 (Lakers, Pacers and Pistons) to score 115+ points in each of their 1st 4 games of a season.

· The Nets have attempted 30+ free throws in each of their 1st 4 games for the 4th time in franchise history and the 1st time since 1997-98.

For a different perspective, go to Orlando Pinstriped Post, the Magic’s SB Nation affiliate.

Wednesday, it’s LeBron James and the Cavaliers at Barclays.