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Kevin Durant’s sixth 30-point game leads Nets blowout of Magic, 123-90

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

No magic needed.

The Nets defeated the Magic in Orlando Wednesday night, 123-90. With the victory, Brooklyn has won six of their last seven games and improved to 8-4 on the young season. The 123 points scored marked a new season-high and the Nets didn’t trail once throughout the contest.

“It was a solid bounce-back game from Chicago. I thought we got a little sloppy at the end of the half where we might have found some separation there. They responded in the third and a lot of good things,” said Steve Nash on the win over the Magic. “I thought we had moments on both ends of the floor where we were really good and really diligent with our game plans. I was happy with it and the guys did very well.”

Kevin Durant recorded his sixth 30+ point game of the season, finishing with 30 points on a near-perfect 11-of-12 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from deep in 29 minutes of play. LaMarcus Aldridge provided another strong scoring boost off the bench with third 20+ point performance — 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting from the floor and 3-of-5 from three in 22 minutes.

“He’s won us a few games and has been a big part of our success this year. He gives us a scoring punch off the bench but also just a veteran who knows how to play on both ends of the floor,’ said Nash on Aldridge. “He’s seen it all, so he’s been great and really important to us.”

James Harden took another big step in getting his rhythm and confidence back, finishing with his third triple-double of the season — 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in 30 minutes of action. Harden leads the league in triple-doubles and his triple-double Wednesday night marked his 15th as a Net.

“It’s a long season. The quicker we can bounce back and get rid of it, the better our team will be, individually and as a collective unit. In Chicago, that quarter (the fourth quarter) was just one of those quarters. First three quarters we played pretty solid. We just wanted to come back, get that bad taste out of our mouth and perform tonight and we did an unbelievable job of that,” said Harden on the bounce-back victory. “Get some rest and we got two more games on this six-game road trip.”

After the loss against the Bulls Monday night, the Nets head coach put an emphasis on the team’s must-needed improvement to get into the paint and score. The team responded with 38 points down low and a win for the record.

“It’s really important for our team,” said Nash on the Nets getting into the paint. “We talked about trying to get into the paint is important for us, whether it’s from James [Harden] using his ability or whether it’s from pace, space and quick decisions. We got to get in the paint and find ways to continue to try to put pressure on their rim. I thought James was excellent and definitely got in there a lot.”

The Nets finished the blowout win shooting 50.0 percent overall and 42.1 percent from deep. Jevon Carter reached double-figures for the first time this season with 10 points in 22 minutes followed by DeAndre’ Bembry with 11 points in 18 minutes. Bembry went 3-for-3 from deep. He’s now shooting 70 percent from three for the season.

“I thought the pace was great. They played quick. They played early. Obviously, we made some shots. LA [LaMarcus Aldridge] made a bunch of shots again but just the shot creation due to their pace and quick decisions I thought was excellent,” said Nash on the play of the second unit.

The Nets went with the same starting five for the ninth straight game — Harden, Harris, Durant, Brown and Griffin. Brooklyn boasted an early 15-10 advantage behind the play of their superstars, who scored 10 of the team’s first 15 points through the first five minutes of play.

Harden — five points in the first — and Brown was working well together in the first on slips and pocket passes to complement Durant’s 12-point quarter help Brooklyn build a strong lead (26-17) entering the final three minutes of the first. The Nets' offense simmered down, scoring only two points to head into the second nursing a 28-23 lead.

It was a strong offensive quarter for Brooklyn. The opening minutes of the second were packed with fouls and Orlando attacked the paint early in the second quarter, but Brooklyn responded in a big way.

Aldridge — who scored 15 points in the first half off the bench — put on a shooting clinic behind Harden’s facilitating — eight assists — as the driving force to the Nets ballooning their lead to 54-36 with 4:34 remaining in the frame. Brooklyn led by as many as 19 points but feathered their foot off the gas in the closing minutes. Orlando came close to making it a single-digit deficit but trimmed Brooklyn’s lead to 12 at the break.

Brooklyn Nets v Orlando Magic Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images

The Nets had three players in double-figures at the break — Aldridge, Durant (18 points) and Harden (13 points) — while shooting 55.6 percent from the floor and 47.4 percent from deep. However, Brooklyn coughed up nine turnovers for only nine Magic points.

Following a strong second quarter, Brooklyn lifted their foot off the gas in the third and left the door open for Orlando to get back into the contest. Although Orlando cut the deficit to 11 points, the team couldn’t trim it to single-digit due to their woeful three-point shooting and the play of Durant, who scored 12 points in the frame to boost the lead back up to 19 heading into the final 12 minutes of play. The Nets poured it on in the opening minutes of the fourth and didn’t look back, emptying their bench with six minutes to go and leaving Orlando with a dominant win.

“That’s really what you want to do — finish quarters, finish halves off the right way,” said Kevin Durant, “We got to lead and we got some momentum, we got to take advantage. I think we did that.”

The Magic were led by Terrence Ross off the bench with 17 points in 20 minutes followed by Mo Bamba with 14 points. Orlando shot 38.0 percent from the field and a woeful 12.1 percent from three in the defeat.

The Film Room

Someone needs to look into this LaMarcus Aldridge thing.

Seriously, the dude comes back from medical retirement and... just doesn’t plan to miss? Like, ever?

Really though, what a tremendous story. The 36-year-old thought he was facing his basketball mortality, yet put in the work to overcome this barrier and has since then shown out for the Nets by giving them the boost they never knew they needed off the bench.

Here’s a quick statatical check-in: He’s still shooting 79% on long midrange jumpers (16 feet to the 3-point line), which ranks in the 98th percentile at his position, per Cleaning the Glass. His at-rim shooting is just as preposterous — 79% at the basket ranks within the 80th percentile amongst big men even as a mostly below-the-rim player.

“We need everybody to play aggressive and play to their strengths, and LaMarcus has been playing to his,” said Kevin Durant. “At that big man position, being able to knock down shots and threes, and also finish around the rim is just a plus for us.”

Recently, he’s been showcasing some undeniable chemistry with James Harden in the pick-and-pop situation. With Harden driving into the paint with more regularity and aggressiveness, Aldridge has feasted when his teammate draws in two defenders.

James Harden has his reliable roller in Bruce Brown. If he can continue to build familiarity with Aldridge, it gives Brooklyn another pick-and-roll look to counter defenses — especially those that drop into the paint like the Magic, opening up outside looks for LaMarcus.

“Once he sees one go in, he thinks every one is going to drop. In the last few games, he’s been showing that he still looks like the LA that we know,” said De’Andre Bembry about Aldridge. “I don’t know if I’ve seen someone shoot the ball as well as he’s doing.”

The name of the game is variety. As a sweet-shooting 7-foot big man, Aldridge certainly qualifies as that.

Nicolas Claxton has reached the “ramp-up” stage.

Before the game, Steve Nash was asked about Nicolas Claxton, who hasn’t played since October 25 due to a “non-COVID” illness that also limited him in preseason. The team hasn’t provided any further details about Claxton’s illness up to this point. Claxton had mentioned the illness was a “sickness” he’s been dealing with for a while. Now, though we have a timeline for his return... well, maybe not a timeline timeline, but there is hope that he’ll be back sooner than later. In fact, Claxton in fact sat at the end of the Nets bench in Orlando.

“He’s started ramping back up again today. So I don’t know how long that process will take. But I think they have to assess where he’s at, and then we’ll see how he goes and then we’ll figure out what he can play again,” said Steve Nash. “I haven’t discussed the date for him to come back. “

Nash explained that Claxton’s ramp-up was mostly treatment-based; he wasn’t working out with his teammates on the floor, just getting his conditioning right while attempting to return from an extended absence. Nonetheless, progress.

Kyrie Irving catches some NJ college hoops action

While the Nets were in Orlando playing the Magic, Kyrie Irving was courtside at the Prudential Center in Newark where he watched Seton Hall host another New Jersey collegiate team, Fairleigh Dickinson. Irving attended the contest with Tim Thomas, the former NBA player and fellow New Jersey schoolboy star.

Thomas told Bally Sports’ Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson that Irving is in good spirits and is working out. He said the two spoke about basketball in the Garden State.

“We spoke about doing some upcoming things with New Jersey and Jersey basketball. Be on the lookout.,” said Thomas, a Paterson native who had two stints with the Knicks among his NBA stops.

No indication that Irving is getting vaccinated. Media didn’t get a chance to speak with him as he was escorted to and from his seats at “The Rock” where Seton Hall beat Fairleigh Dickinson handily.

Adam Zagoria writing for NJ.com explained Irving’s presence at the Prudential Center...

Irving is close friends with Seton Hall guard Bryce Aiken, with both having attended St. Patrick High School/The Patrick School, and Irving clapped whenever Aiken scored or made a good play. Aiken finished with 15 points in the blowout victory. Irving left the court during halftime before returning in the second half, and Thomas said Irving would not be speaking to reporters. He departed again for good with the game well in hand.

“It was great to see Kyrie,” Pirates coach Kevin Willard said. “I had invited him back but I think he had dinner plans so I think he was going out to dinner. I was hoping he would speak to the team, but unfortunately he’s not playing. Hopefully he gets to play soon but he’s more than welcome to practice with us and come hang out with us anytime he wants.”

It was Irving’s first public appearance since his October 24 Instagram Live video in which he explained why he would not be getting vaccinated.

Milestone after milestone

Take a look at the Nets PR feed late in the game, one milestone after another...

  • Kevin Durant finished tonight’s game with 30 points (11-of-12 FG, 91.7%) in 29 minutes. The only player in franchise history to shoot a higher FG % in a 30-point game was Buck Williams (30 points on 14-of-15 FG, 93.3%) on Christmas Day in 1982 at New York.
  • The Nets led wire-to-wire in a 123-90 victory over the Magic in Orlando. The 33-point win matches the fourth-largest margin of victory in a road game in franchise history. It’s the largest road victory for the Nets since 3/18/13 at Detroit (119-82).
  • LaMarcus Aldridge (21 points) has recorded his third 20-point game of the season (all off the bench). That already matches the most 20-point games posted by a Net off the bench all of last season (Caris LeVert and Landry Shamet).
  • Jevon Carter (10 points on 4-of-6 FG) has reached double figures for the first time this season. Carter has added a season-best five assists tonight.
  • James Harden (17 points, season-high 11 rebounds, 10 assists) has recorded his third triple-double of the season (15th as a Net). Harden is the only player in the league with three triple-doubles this season.

Rooks cash in

For the second straight game, the Nets two first round picks got extensive garbage time and made the most of it. In the final 6;54 of the fourth, Cam Thomas scored his first NBA field goal, going 1-of-2. Meanwhile, Day’Ron Sharpe had five boards, three offensive, and scored four points. Sharpe also had a block and a steal. He also hit both of his free throws.

Thomas also had a faceoff with a teammate on Instagram...

As Sponge Bob might say...

What’s next?

The Nets will travel to New Orleans to face the Pelicans on Friday, November 12. The game is scheduled to tip at 8:00 p.m. ET.

For a different perspective on Wednesday night’s game against the Magic, check out Orlando Pinstriped Post — our sister site covering the Magic.