The Magic all but evened the playing field, but even that couldn’t stop the Nets from following the same old pattern, suffering the same old fourth-quarter collapse and getting the same old result.
Despite playing without its starting point guard — Elfrid Payton missed his third straight game with an ankle bruise — and nursing a losing streak of its own, the Magic cobbled together a fourth-quarter comeback and defeated the Nets, 83-77, at Barclays Center on Friday night.
It was the ninth straight home defeat for the Nets, who have lost three in a row overall. The Nets haven’t won at home since Dec. 10. They also haven’t won a game since point guard Jarrett Jack tore his ACL and meniscus last Saturday, requiring season-ending surgery.
The Magic outscored the Nets 23-15 in the fourth quarter and went ahead on Aaron Gordon’s layup with 6:21 to play. Victor Oladipo, at the point in place of Payton, hit a three-pointer half a minute later.
“I’m starting to sound like a broken record,” Nets coach Lionel Hollins said. “Here at home, nine straight losses, most of them similar . . . We had opportunities to go ahead further and couldn’t take advantage of them. The last quarter, we just couldn’t make a play, couldn’t make a shot.”
The Nets (10-26), who trailed by 11 in the first quarter, led by five in the third but could not sustain the momentum.
Brook Lopez led the Nets with 17 points, Joe Johnson scored 13 and Shane Larkin added 12. Thaddeus Young, who picked up his fifth foul with a little more than nine minutes left, had 11 points and nine rebounds.
Nikola Vucevic and Oladipo had 20 points each for the Magic. Tobias Harris was held to nine points but had 12 rebounds.
“It’s pretty much the same thing,” Johnson said of the Nets’ pattern — keeping it close for the first half or longer, then failing in rudimentary ways. “It comes down to us as players out there on the court getting stops, boxing out, getting rebounds.”
The Magic (20-17) entered the game with four straight losses, and with the Wizards up next and a trip to London to play the Raptors on the horizon, Orlando needed to capitalize on the Nets’ weaknesses.
The Magic shot 39.8 percent from the floor and looked ill at ease in the early going without Payton running the show. Despite that, the Nets, who shot 39.7 percent, could never take advantage.
Wayne Ellington briefly gave the Nets life, hitting a buzzer-beating three-pointer that gave them a 62-60 lead going into the fourth quarter, but that’s when that same old pattern reared its head again.
These days, the Nets can’t take much solace in just hanging in there anymore.
“A loss is a loss,” a frustrated Johnson said. “We had some wide-open shots, didn’t make them. We had our chances.”