Nets vs. Magic Recap: Kevin Durant’s Extraordinary Night Pushes Brooklyn Past Orlando

In a season that has been defined by inconsistency thus far, the Nets entered Monday night’s game against the Magic searching for some sort of rhythm. Injury-ridden Orlando tested Brooklyn, but Kevin Durant propelled the team to get the job done to get the Nets back to .500.

First Half

Right off the bat, Orlando played with composure–and the Nets did not. The Magic generated multiple turnovers, playing with pace and finding the open man with ease.

Brooklyn responded by taking a quick time out after going down 12-5 early. Kyrie Irving helped spark a key Nets run as the team flipped the script. Several breaks in transition led to open buckets at the rim, allowing Brooklyn to take the lead.

Momentum swung right back in Orlando’s direction, however. After the first twelve minutes, Orlando led 28-23.

During the second period, neither team was able to find a groove on offense. The Magic missed 16 consecutive shots but Brooklyn could not capitalize. Every time the Nets looked like they could figure things out, a turnover or mental error got in the way.

However, Brooklyn was able to tighten up the screws toward the end of the half. Irving, Durant and Joe Harris put down tough buckets that allowed the team to regain the lead. Heading into halftime, Brooklyn led 52-51.

Second Half

To start the third quarter, both teams traded impressive scores. Franz Wagner was phenomenal for Orlando, keeping the Magic within striking distance. Back-to-back three-pointers from Irving and Durant put the Nets up six, however, causing the Magic to call a timeout.

Brooklyn remained relatively consistent throughout the period, especially on the offensive end. Durant was unstoppable, getting to his spots with ease. His ability to take over a game is beautiful to watch. The Nets relied on his playmaking and scoring during the entirety of the third quarter. With twelve minutes left to play, Brooklyn led 87-76.

As the fourth quarter got underway, Orlando found their footing. Multiple possessions from Brooklyn resulted in poor shot selection, allowing the Magic to chip away at a double-digit deficit. When Durant was not present on the court, the team lacked the offensive firepower it needed to quell Orlando’s push.

Thankfully for the Nets, Durant was back in the game quickly. While Orlando did its best to stay in the game, Durant was relentless from the floor. Nic Claxton was a major factor in the final period, scoring and defending at a high level. Irving continued to make timely plays when Brooklyn needed them most.

The Nets managed to hang on at home, defeating the Magic 109-102 at Barclays Center.

Key Takeaways

  • Let’s start with the obvious: Kevin. Durant. This man could not be stopped on Monday night, no matter what Orlando threw at him. Durant put up 45 points on just 24 shots while attempting only four free throws. At the same time, he contributed across the board–grabbing seven rebounds, posting two blocks and adding five assists. When Durant plays at this level, Brooklyn must come away with a win.
  • Joe Harris has caught a lot of flack lately for underperforming on offense, with his three-ball being inconsistent. That being said, he was clutch against Orlando. Harris put up 17 points, including just two three-pointers. He can score in a variety of ways and should look to generate open looks at the rim more often–especially when his three-pointer is not falling.
  • Nic Claxton was another unsung hero during the Nets’ win. He posted 17 points and 13 rebounds, dominating on both ends of the floor. His help defense on Paolo Banchero was spectacular, which also led to Claxton racking up three blocks on the night. When Claxton is engaged, he is one of the most versatile centers in the league.
  • Ben Simmons went down in the early second quarter and was unable to return to the game due to knee soreness. After the game, Jacque Vaughn said Simmons will be considered day-to-day and will “see how he responds with a little treatment.” The Nets hope this does not keep Simmons out long, as he has proven to be an important piece. Even when he doesn’t score, Simmons can facilitate and create open looks for teammates. Simmons also has found a rhythm over the past week, putting up great numbers and seeming to settle into a comfortable role alongside Durant and Irving. Thankfully for the Nets, it seems Simmons can return to the court as early as Wednesday with proper treatment.

Moving forward, Brooklyn simply needs to build on the positive momentum generated over the past few games. For the first time since Oct. 21, the Nets are at the .500 mark. During this home stretch, team basketball must be emphasized with a chance to go on a run and take a leap in the standings.