Sunday, November 11, 2012

Brooklyn Beats Battling Magic in New Backyard

Would the third time be the charm for the Magic to earn their first road win of the 2012-2013 season? Well... no. But at least it wasn't a degrading defeat for this now 2-4 team, falling 82-74 inside the brand new Barclays Center. On Saturday, Coach Vaughn found himself protecting Nikola Vucevic from any criticisms about not successfully defending Brook Lopez during his 11-point first quarter onslaught Friday night by stating that the Nets only scored nineteen points in those initial 12 minutes. Nik got abused again early, allowing 10 first period points to Brook. Vucevic's slow start was made up as the afternoon progressed into early evening as Nik posted 14 points, 12 rebounds, and 3 assists. Glen Davis' efficiency was a tad bit better, putting up 19 points, 10 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks as he was 9-for-21 on that wicked herringbone-style Nets floor. 
Coach Vaughn after the loss: "We missed a few bunnies tonight that could have went in. A few jumpers that could've went our way. Overall, I was pleased with the fight we had tonight." 

I've been objective and patient, but I still prefer Amway Center to that red-headed stepchild of a stadium. Nets Head Coach Avery Johnson was grinning with confidence going into the Sunday afternoon contest. You'd be too if you came off a choke job loss at home, then a frustration loss in Miami, and redeeming yourself by putting up a 39-point drubbing on your opponent who you get to face again within 48 hours. Jacque decided to change up his starting lineup once again. This time it wasn't due to injury. Josh McRoberts may have started on Friday, but he only played 12 minutes. 'McBob' would be once again rightfully relegated to the bench as JJ Redick made his first start of the season at shooting guard, sliding Arron Afflalo into McRoberts' abandoned SF position. Afflalo was superb as usual as Arron tallied 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. 'Redickulous' is still suffering to regain his fantastic shooting, as JJ bumbled his way through a 3-for-12 game. But when you hand out 9 assists, Redick is still a positive on the court. No sixth man Redick meant even worse bench production. 4 points to be exact. Pitiful and very disappointing. Orlando whipped out their unlucky black uniforms for the first time in this revamped campaign to no avail.
Coach Vaughn on Glen Davis: "He's done a good job of combining jump shots and drives to the rim...I want him to do what he's doing...I have no stilts. Brook Lopez is pretty big."

Orlando didn't lead for a second on Friday, so it was great that the rematch scoring began with a slick Redick dish to Vucevic for a 2-handed jam. But similar problems immediately appeared. Nets big men were getting very deep paint position for easy buckets. Once Orlando's defense began barricading the paint better with help defense, that led to open 3-pointers for Brooklyn. Glen Davis isolation plays were unproductive to Orlando's cause. Ish Smith looked lost. Maurice Harkless was too weak to handle Joe Johnson and Jerry Stackhouse. The Magic trailed 35-17 after the first quarter. I was in the process of having flashbacks of the horrendous Friday night before the Magic actually showed great 2nd period defensive progress. Also, the Magic's ball movement actually appeared and there was some actual transition scoring. Orlando trailed 50-35 at the break while throwing up a putrid 34.1 FG% and getting beat by 13 on the glass. It's as if the Magic forgot how to box out this week. Arron Afflalo's 13 first half points kept the Magic afloat heading into the locker room. Even though Nik couldn't stop much, you have to admire Vucevic at least battling very hard and putting up 8 points at the break. Both men should be receiving more shot attempts in comparison to Glen Davis. Coach Vaughn's crew was down by fourteen at halftime on Friday. So again, too many similarities to the 39-point horror. 

Effort and ball movement will always keep this Magic squad in games. It took a lot of battling, but Orlando ever so slowly began to make their presence known in the contest. Orlando's first 3-pointer came midway through the 3rd period. All of a sudden it was just a 57-47 deficit. Game on as the Nets only posted thirteen points in that 12-minute session. Brooklyn still led 63-53 but the momentum was shifting to Coach Vaughn's side, until the officiating crew decided to help put the contest in the Nets' hands and punishing the Magic by putting them in the penalty early in the final period. Coach Vaughn won't flat out admit it, but this where it's most crucial to have veterans like Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu out there to calm the situation down on the court. You can direct and guide from the bench all you want, but it's up to the players to keep their composure. That doesn't stop Coach Vaughn for continually praising E'Twaun Moore and the 40 minutes he played. Moore only managed 8 points though.
Coach Vaughn on effort and shot selection: "The shots that we had tonight were good soon as that ball is thrown up at the beginning the game, that focus needs to be there."

I despise complaining about refs, I truly do, but Monty McCutchen's crew didn't call the game equally on both ends. Orlando was constantly attacking the paint in the 2nd half, and only received 18 free throw attempts. It's a much larger number than the lousy eight attempts from Friday, but Brooklyn got away with plenty of hard arm-swats while Orlando was being whistled for light flicks and nonexistent fouls altogether. It shouldn't be difficult to do a paying job properly. If the viewing audience has to focus on the three men with whistles more than the actual game action, then there's something gravely wrong with that picture. Despite all the incorrect whistle-blowing, Orlando kept fighting on. It's a testament to the character on this Magic roster, but Orlando was finally able to crack the Nets double digit lead and only trailed 62-70 with 6:07 remaining in the contest. Orlando got within 5 points late and it was a dogfight down the stretch as the Magic found success running quick pick-and-rolls. In the end, Brook Lopez and Deron Williams had too much firepower for the Magic to complete their comeback. A valiant effort gone to waste unfortunately, just like the Bulls loss in Chicago. Shooting 1-for-12 from 3-point range along with missed lay-ups and not attacking the paint earlier in the game can be viewed as the main culprits for Orlando's loss. Learn and move on.  It's frustrating to see such little or zero playing time for Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn when you see Ayon, Davis, and McRoberts having their frontcourt struggles. Orlando comes back home to host the 4-0 New York Knicks at Amway Center on Tuesday. The only remaining undefeated team in the NBA will be well rested since defeating the Mavericks on Friday

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