ORLANDO, Fla. — After losing to the Nets in their home opener Friday at Barclays Center, the Magic turned around and whipped LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champions by 21 the next night in Cleveland. Orlando coach Frank Vogel on Tuesday night said the key was to let his players know they played very well and lost to a vastly improved Nets team, not “the worst team in the league last year.”
How much have the Nets improved over last season’s 20-62 club? “I think they’re a contender for a playoff spot, and I’m extremely impressed with the job that they’re doing and their coaching staff,” Vogel said. “Kenny’s [Nets coach Atkinson] just done a great job in getting these guys playing the right way, playing extremely hard. They got some hard-playing dudes. So they’re a dramatically different team in my opinion from who they were last year.”
The Nets faced a similar challenge to what the Magic did last week in that they were scheduled to come home to play James and the Cavs Wednesday night at Barclays Center. Luckily for the Nets, the Cavs also will be playing the second game of a back-to-back, coming off a home game against Chicago.
Asked how the Nets prepare for the Cavs while facing the Magic, Atkinson said, “We don’t look at that. We’re completely focused on Orlando. We have a coach that’s in charge of the Cleveland scouting. I don’t even talk to him today because he’s focused on that. We’ll approach that [Wednesday] morning.”
So, the Nets’ preparation for the Cavs will be confined to a team meeting.
Paternity leave for Kilpatrick
Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick did not make the trip to Orlando for personal reasons. On Tuesday, he became the father of a six-pound, 10-ounce girl named Scarlett Rose Kilpatrick. “There wasn’t even a question that he stays with his family,” Atkinson said. “He’ll join us when we get back.”