TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsBasketballNets

Durant, Nets bounce back with dominating win over Magic

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Nets rebounded from an embarrassing blowout loss to the Bulls and resumed their winning ways with a dominating 123-90 victory over the Magic Wednesday night at Amway Center. They were equally tough at both ends of the floor, scoring a season high in points while holding their opponent to less than 100 points for the fifth time this season.

Unlike Monday in Chicago when the Nets fell apart in the fourth quarter, they expanded a 9-1 run to end the third quarter into a 17-1 run that carried them to a 102-75 lead early in the fourth quarter. The Magic failed to score a point for a span of 5:18. Eventually, the Nets led by as much as 31 points.

Kevin Durant led the Nets (8-4) with 30 points, LaMarcus Aldridge totaled 21, and James Harden finished with a triple-double of 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. The Nets shot 50.0% overall and 42.1% from three-point range (16 of 38), and they got 59 points from the bench, including 11 from DeAndre' Bembry and 10 from Jevon Carter.

Terrence Ross topped the Magic (3-9) with 17 points, but the Nets held them to 38.0% overall and a miserable 12.1% from three (4-for-33).

The Nets saw their five-game winning streak come to an end Monday in Chicago when the Bulls outscored them, 42-17 in the fourth quarter. It was a disappointing loss to an up-and-coming Eastern Conference contender, but Nets coach Steve Nash said fatigue in the second game of a back-to-back set was a contributing factor to the breakdown.

A young Magic team that has struggled while starting rookies Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs along with first-year player Cole Anthony seemed like the perfect opponent to help the Nets get back on track, but Nash cautioned that the Magic’s youthful energy should not be overlooked.

"We got our rest and, hopefully, we come with the aggressiveness we need and we play a little better," Nash said. "But they will challenge us. They’re long, athletic and they’ve got nothing to lose, so this is not a formality at all.

"Wagner is talented, Cole Anthony and Suggs is going to be a terrific player in this league. They’ve got some length on the front line, some versatility, their two bigs can shoot threes and finish at the rim and they have some depth. They have the pieces, but it’s just a young group."

Durant scored 12 first-quarter points as the Nets built a 28-23 lead even though they failed to get to the foul line for a single free throw. But it was Aldridge coming off the bench and igniting an 18-7 run with 13 points as the Nets drew out to a 46-32 lead.

The Nets’ margin eventually grew to 19 at 60-41 on a three-point play by Harden. But the Magic responded with an 11-2 burst to pull within before settling for a 65-53 halftime deficit. At that point, the Nets were shooting 55.6% overall and 47.4% from three (9 of 19) while holding the Magic to 38.0% and 13.3% (2 of 16). Durant had 18 first-half points, and Harden already was close to a triple-double with 13 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

In the third quarter, the Magic got within 11 points several times but couldn’t get their deficit under double digits. The Nets finished the period with a 9-1 burst to restore their high lead of 19 at 94-75 going to the final quarter. By that time, Durant already had his fifth 30-point game of the season, and Harden had his third triple-double in a six-game span.

New York Sports