ORLANDO, Fla. — If the Nets were bothered by the fourth-quarter meltdown they suffered in Chicago — and they certainly should have been — they responded in the best possible by flushing it down the toilet with a dominating 123-90 victory over the Magic Wednesday night at Amway Center.
The Nets 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 and tying their season-low in points allowed. The 33-point margin marked their biggest road win since 2014.
After getting blown out in the fourth quarter by the Bulls by a 42-17 margin, the Nets put together a 17-1 run spanning the end of the third and start of the fourth quarter that carried them to a 102-75 lead. The Magic failed to score a point for a span of 5:18. Eventually, the Nets led by as much as 31 points.
"It just shows growth on our part," said James Harden, who had his third triple-double in the past six games with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. "We’ve been preaching, especially when we’re up going into the fourth quarter it’s an opportunity to show our championship habits, just being solid, making sure we get stops, and offensively, making sure that ball is moving and popping.
"That [second] unit that came in did an unbelievable job of that just sharing the basketball and defensively being in the right spots at the right times, gang rebounding. Offensively, they were sharing the basketball, and whoever was open had confidence to knock it down. It was a great effort from us, especially a bounceback."
Kevin Durant led the Nets (8-4) with 30 points on 11-for-12 shooting and LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points to lead a 59-point effort by the bench, including 11 from DeAndre’ Bembry and 10 from Jevon Carter. The Nets shot 50.0% overall and 42.1% from three-point range (16-for-38). 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 end Monday when the Bulls overwhelmed them in the fourth quarter on the second game of a back-to-back. "In Chicago, that quarter was one of those quarters," Harden said. "The first three quarters, we played pretty solid, so we just wanted to come back and get that bad taste out of our mouth and perform tonight and we did an unbelievable job of that. So get some rest, and we’ve got two more games on this road trip."
Harden got into the paint early and did a good job of dishing to open shooters, and Durant had 12 first-quarter points. But when
Aldridge came off the bench to score 13 points in an 18-7 run that gave the Nets a 46-32 lead, that was when they got separation and eventually built a 19-point second-quarter lead.
In the third quarter, the Magic got within 11 points several times, but Aldridge again made an impact when he scored the last five points in the 17-1 surge for a 27-point lead with 8:50 left to play.
"LaMarcus came in and just has been steady for us doing what he has been doing all season, and then you’ve got DeAndre’ and Jevon coming out and playing aggressive for us tonight," Durant said. "It could be anyone from that bench unit.
"Glad they were able to come out there and make some shots and extend the lead and kind of wiin the game for us actually. We are going to need that going forward, need them to continue to build the confidence in that group, and I’m glad we were able to finish the game off."