ORLANDO, Fla. -- Midway through the third quarter, as the Magic was carving up the Nets, the instrumental for A$AP Ferg's single "Work'' pumped through the Amway Center's speakers. Maybe it was the D.J.'s way of reminding the Nets what they were supposed to be doing.
Only 48 hours after their win over the two-time defending champion Heat, which led to a flurry of pats on their backs, the Nets apparently forgot to punch the time clock Sunday night. Perhaps expecting to just show up and throttle a team many believe will struggle to be competitive, the Nets were outclassed by the young, exuberant Magic in a brutal 107-86 loss.
They trailed for the final 27:34 and were down 20 points early in the fourth quarter, no doubt a shock for a team that has championship aspirations.
"I think they just straight up outplayed us, honestly,'' said Brook Lopez, who led the Nets with 21 points. "More energy. They beat us to 50-50 balls. We're definitely better than this team, but we didn't show it tonight. It didn't look like it.''
The Nets (1-2) seemed shell-shocked, unable to grasp how they could be so lethargic.
"We've got to be consistent with the passion,'' Kevin Garnett said. "We've got to be consistent with the level. We can't pick and choose who we want to play. This is a learning lesson, man. We're still growing, still building. But effort can't be taught. It's what's in you.''
The Nets settled for jumpers rather than pound the ball inside against the smaller Magic (2-2). They shot 38.2 percent and were only 4-for-17 from three-point range.
Orlando had more second-chance points (23-12), points in the paint (42-26), fast-break points (12-3) and rebounds (54-42). Victor Oladipo scored 19, including a 360-degree fast-break dunk after stealing the ball from Deron Williams.
"If you take anything from it, we're going to learn from it,'' Williams said. "We should be [ticked] off. I think everybody is [ticked] off.''
Paul Pierce briefly ignited the Nets when he crossed Oladipo over at the top of the key, drove hard and flushed a righthanded stuff with authority. That made it 61-52 with 4:11 left in the third quarter. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn called a timeout, perhaps fearing a momentum shift, thinking the Nets were about to get it together.
Never happened. Orlando took a 74-59 lead into the fourth.
"Regardless of what our offense does, a dunk, whatever, we shouldn't need things to motivate us,'' Pierce said. "We should come out with that mind-set at the start of the game, each and every night, knowing we've got a lot on the line this season.
"The Magic has a good young team. Not really projected to go to the playoffs, but these are games we should win.''
Particularly after beating the Heat, which the Nets thought proved they could play with anybody.
"Man, it's tough,'' Williams said. "We talked about it before the game. The win against Miami doesn't mean anything if we come in here and lay an egg, and that's what we did. These are tough games to get up for, but if we want to be one of the best teams in this league, the best team in this league when it's all said and done, we've got to perform better in these situations.''