— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) October 21, 2017
The Magic, who were also without star man Aaron Gordon after an ankle injury he sustained in the opening game, lost starting point guard Elfrid Payton with a left hamstring strain toward the end of the second quarter. From there on out, the visitors faced a uphill task at improving their record to a perfect 2-0 start.
The game began with the two teams, considered two of the worst in the Eastern Conference, trading baskets for much of the first half, but it was Brooklyn who went into the interval leading 58-55.
Orlando then clawed back an eight-point deficit midway through the third quarter to take a 91-89 lead heading into the fourth as Jonathon Simmons sank a three-point shot at the buzzer.
Within two minutes of the final period, Orlando had stretched their lead to four with nine-and-a-half minutes left on the clock, however this would be the last time they held the lead in this game. As time ticked down to the four-minute mark, the Magic continued to miss shot after shot and resorted to intentionally fouling Trevor Booker (17 points, 11 rebounds), who connected on five of his six late free throws. Orlando managed to pull the scores within one after Terrence Ross drained a clutch three with 13 seconds remaining, but the Magic were never able to make use of their momentum.
The fourth and final quarter saw perhaps the play of the game take place, as D’Angelo Russell (17 points, six assists) ran at Jonathan Isaac, before crossing him over and sending Isaac twisting and turning to the floor. A play that summed up the rookie’s far from convincing night.
D’Angelo Russell welcomes Jonathan Isaac to the NBA by putting him on skates. pic.twitter.com/8XyAwMHW1M
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) October 21, 2017
With no Gordon or Payton on the court, Nikola Vucevic was trusted to run the offense along with swingman Evan Fournier. This tactic reaped some very successful rewards as Vucevic finished with a game-high and career-high 41 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to carry Orlando to victory. The center even scored nine in the final quarter, only to see his side outscored by seven, and lose the game by five.
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) October 20, 2017
20-year-old Isaac was assigned the role of Gordon’s replacement at the four, and the wiry forward looked out of place going against stronger opposition, allowing the cutting Russell, and second unit big man Booker to significantly impact the game.
Essentially, the Magic had a torrid time protecting the paint as they sent the Nets to the line on 35 occasions, of which Brooklyn hit 25 of them, and committed a combined 27 personal fouls in the process. As well as this, they allowed a woeful 15 offensive rebounds, with Booker picking up five off the bench.
Orlando will now be without their starting point guard for their trip to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, while Gordon remains questionable. Brooklyn will be looking to continue their form as they next take on the Atlanta Hawks on Sunday afternoon.