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Make that FIVE straight: Nets squeeze out late victory over Orlando, 114-110

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Orlando Magic v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The last time these two teams played, the Nets erased a 21-point deficit and defeated the Magic in improbable fashion.

This one wasn’t exactly a comeback, but it was another intriguing ending with the Nets finding ways to dig it out, 114-110. The Nets are 26-23 of the season, have won five straight games — seven straight at home (11 of 12) and are the NBA’s hottest team since December 6 with an 18-5 record. It’s their best 23-game stretch since the 2005-2006 season.

They’re two wins away from matching their win total from last season.

The victory came on the backs of the “Two-headed snake” in D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, who also saved the day last time around vs. the Magic.

“I see more as they are meshing. More and more every time. I know advanced stuff says they don’t play well together, but they’re going to be in at the end of the game,” said Kenny Atkinson. “They’re two of our top players. Having multiple ball handlers like that is huge. They really know how to play off each other now. Especially the plays we run at the end of the game, they’re looking out for each other. D’Angelo called a play for Spencer with under two minutes there. It was a big play. That’s kind of the altruism we have right now, guys are really playing for each other.”

Russell flirted with a triple-double with 25 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists. DLo has now dished out seven or more assists in a career-best six straight games. That streak marks the longest stretch of seven-assist games for a Net since Dinwiddie last season (also six).

Speaking of Dinwiddie, he finished with 29 points on 10-of-17 shooting —his 10th 25-point game off the bench this season, which matches a single-season franchise record for 25-point games off the bench, previously set by Bubbles Hawkins in the Nets’ inaugural NBA season (1976-77).

It was the fourth time Russell and Dinwiddie each scored 20+ points in a game together this season.

“I just think when we’re both aggressive it works out best for us. Like I said, as we’re getting games under our belts I think we’re realizing how to play off each other and be aggressive and kind of play making and make things happen every time we get the ball,” Russell said afterwards.

This was supposed to be a revenge game for the Magic. After Friday’s close ending, they held a players-only meeting Saturday and came in fired up to give Brooklyn a hard time throughout. It was tied at half and just a three point Nets’ lead entering the fourth.

The big moment(s) came late in the fourth following a Russell mid-ranger followed up with a three-pointer from DeMarre Carroll to give Brooklyn a 109-104 lead, later turning into a 109-106 lead, Magic ball.

With about 1:25 left in the game, Vucevic drove the lane and had an easy layup, but Joe Harris stepped in and took a charge — perhaps the biggest play of the game.

“We call it MIG actually. It’s the most important guy, so it’s the opposite wing defender, and I was just on the opposite lock. That’s my rotations, just to step over... That’s my job to come over and either get a verticality or try to take a charge, get my feet outside the circle,” Harris said after the game.

“I just want to mention Joe Harris’ charge,” Atkinson said after the game. “We talk about winning plays, to stick his nose in there against a seven-foot guy coming down there was a huge play.”

Still, the Magic brought it within two with possession, but Nikola Vucevic was called for an offensive goal-tending violation, giving Brooklyn the ball up by two with three seconds left.

Russell sealed the deal by hitting two at the line, 114-110.

The Orlando Magic entered Wednesday as the 11 seed — 4.5 games away from the Nets. They’re now 5.5 back and hopes dwindling with a 20-28 record.

Carroll was huge off the bench and clutch in the end, finishing the night with 19 points in 32 minutes. He’s scored double figures in 15 of the last 19 games he played in. After him was Rodions Kurucs and Joe Harris, both who finished with 13 apiece, while Jarrett Allen finished with 11 rebounds — his sixth straight game with double digit rebounds.

The Nets shot 48 percent from the field and nailed 10-of-31 from deep. Orlando shot just 43 percent with Vucevic serving as their biggest contributor with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

For more post-game audio, click here.

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PLAYOFF RACE

The Nets entered Wednesday’s game standing as the six seed in the East. The Magic entered the game as the 11 seed — 4.5 games back of the Nets. They had a 4-game cushion on the nine-seed Pistons.

At day’s end, the Nets were two games ahead of the seven seed, Charlotte; two and a half games ahead of the eight seed, Miami.

DLO ENDORSEMENTS

It appears the D’Angelo Russell and All-Star Game push is real. He’s getting legitimate endorsements from legitimate players — and trainers — around the league.

It started with Devin Booker.

Then, Kevin Durant liked the picture, assuming he feels the same.

Then, New Jersey native Karl-Anthony Towns chimed in...

And finally, Chris Brickley — the profound trainer who works with all NBA-types particularly in the off-season.

NETS PRIDE NIGHT AT BARCLAYS

The Nets rolled out the rainbow carpet at Barclays Center Wednesday night.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in Greenwich Village —a catalyst for the gay rights movement— the Nets honored the owners of the Stonewall Inn with the Jason Collins Courage and Leadership Award.

Colllins of course became the first openly gay player in any of the four major team sports when he suited up for the Nets in 2014.

And in a visually stunning spectacle, the arena —all 17,332 seats— were decked out in colored towels giving Barclays a rainbow look.

And to top things off, a lesbian couple got engaged.

JOE TSAI BUYS LIBERTY

Nets’ minority-stake owner, Joe Tsai, has officially purchased the Liberty from the Madison Square Garden Company.

“It is an honor and a privilege to join the Liberty and WNBA families,” said Tsai. “As one of New York’s proudest franchises, the Liberty has played a vital role in New York City over the past 22 years.

“The Liberty and WNBA exemplify what it means to compete at the highest level, serve as role models in the local community, and bring greater opportunities to female athletes. Our goal is to continue this important work and help bring the WNBA into its next phase of growth.”

Tsai is becoming one of the biggest names in the NBA. Just wait until 2021 when he takes control of the Nets.

For a different perspective, head on over to Orlando Pinstriped Post, our Magic sister site on SB Nation.

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Next up: The Brooklyn Nets will face the New York Knicks on Friday at Barclays Center. It’s time Nets fans make it feel like their house.