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D’Angelo Russell drops 40 as Nets erase 21-point deficit for 3rd straight win, 117-115

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

The magic didn’t end in Houston, it carried over into Orlando. And I’m not talking about the team the Nets faced.

The Nets trailed by as many as 21 after an extremely disappointing first half. It looked like it might be a letdown game after a stunning victory in Houston, but the Nets do not give up. Instead, they made their biggest comeback since 2011 and it came on the back of D’Angelo Russell.

DLo finished with a career high-tying 40 points on 16-of-25 shooting, including 8-of-12 from downtown. He did not attempt a free throw.

It started with a 7-0 run early in the fourth that brought Brooklyn within four. The teams went back and forth until Russell nailed a mid-ranger to bring the Nets within two with under two minutes remaining.

The Nets came up with a stop on the defensive end and suddenly it was showtime for the two-headed snake. Joe Harris inbounded a pass from under the basket, hit Spencer Dinwiddie in the corner who nailed the three and the foul, putting the Nets up by two.

... Peep the bench.

The Magic answered with a bucket of their own and it was all tied up at 113 apiece, Nets ball with a two-for-one opportunity. The ball in Russell’s hands.

Russell baited the defender with a jab, stepped back and nailed his eighth three-pointer to give the Nets a three-point lead, ice-in-his-veins gesture and all.

“Ice. That’s all I see,” Russell told Michael Grady in the post-game.

Of course, the Magic had their opportunities. Treveon Graham fouled Terrence Ross from three, but Ross missed the second free throw which kept the Nets up by one point. The Nets killed clock and Dinwiddie stepped to the line with nine seconds left. He missed one-of-two and Orlando had its chance.

With Joe Harris covering him, Evan Fournier called for a high pick-and-roll from Nikola Vucevic. Fournier stormed to the rim and got a clean look but missed just short.

Nets win.

...Nets win.

..... NETS WIN!

It’s their third straight victory. Final score of 117-115. The Nets moved above .500 at 24-23. It’s the first time the Nets have been above .500 in January since 2012-2013, their first year in Brooklyn.

They entered Friday with a three-game lead over Orlando (19-26) and exited with a four-game lead, standing as sole owners of the sixth seed, four games behind the fifth seed, the Boston Celtics

Russell has now scored 20 or more points in eight of the last 10 games and it was also his third game in the last seven games with seven or more three-pointers (8-of-12). He kept the Nets in the game early, scoring 19 straight points in the second quarter — the most of any NBA player this season — ending the first half with 24 points.

“This past month, he’s been playing out of his mind,” Kenny Atkinson replied when asked if Russell is an All-Star.

Meanwhile, Dinwiddie finished with 20 points in 27 minutes on 6-of-11 shooting. Shabazz Napier came up big off the bench with four three-pointers, while Joe Harris (11 points) and DeMarre Carroll (10 points) were the other Nets’ players in double figures. Jarrett Allen finished with 10 rebounds and six points.

Aaron Gordon led the Magic with 23 points, while Nikola Vucevic — a known Nets’ killer — finished with 16 points and 17 rebounds.

The Nets didn’t play their best game, by any means. They clawed, they scrapped and they came away with the win all thanks to a 31-20 advantage in the fourth quarter. Russell kept them alive and the others stepped up when they needed to.

It almost doesn’t feel real.

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PLAYOFF RACE

The Nets entered Friday night’s game tied with Miami for the six seed in the East. The winning has given them a little more breathing room. After the Pistons beat the Heat, the Nets are now two and a half games ahead of the ninth seed.

CARIS LEVERT

As we’ve learned, the Brooklyn Nets rarely provide injury timetables under Sean Marks. That doesn’t mean we aren’t tracking things. LeVert was injured 9 12 weeks ago which begs the question — Is a return looming?

He was seen shooting with the team in Houston...

Then this from Brian Lewis...

JARRETT ALLEN’S LIST

Jarrett Allen had three blocks, giving him 11 in three games. No Magic player suffered under his wing Friday, but that’s okay.

Here’s a friendly reminder...

DINWIDDIE THREE’S FOR KIDS TO SEE + DISNEY KICKS

And his kicks...

For another perspective and a What-the-hell-just-happened? review, head on over to Orlando Pinstriped Post, our Magic sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: The Sacramento Kings on Monday — the start of a three-game home stand! The other games are against the Magic on Wednesday and the Knicks on Friday.