Brooklyn Nets: Player grades from believable comeback win at Orlando

Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets D'Angelo Russell (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Brooklyn Nets
Brooklyn Nets D’Angelo Russell (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets came from 21 points down in the 1st half Friday to beat the Orlando Magic 117-115. But the funny thing is the game never felt out of reach.

After the Brooklyn Nets pulled off their biggest comeback win since leaving New Jersey in 2012 by beating the Orlando Magic 117-115 Friday night after trailing by 21 points in the second quarter, the sensation I felt wasn’t so much disbelief as confirmation.

When Jonathan Isaac dropped in a layup off a feed from Nikola Vucevic with 4:35 left in the first half to put Orlando up 58-37, the feeling I had while watching it was best summed up this way:

“They got this.”

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That feeling never left, particularly not when D’Angelo Russell finished the first half with a flurry, scoring Brooklyn’s last 19 points of the second quarter and helping get the deficit back to 13 points by halftime at 67-54.

The feeling was still there when Vucevic knocked down a short hook shot with 6:30 to go in the third quarter that pushed the Magic lead back to 18 at 86-68.

Sure enough, the Nets made another run to close the period, scoring the final five points of the quarter and cutting the deficit to 95-86 on Spencer Dinwiddie‘s fadeaway jumper with 1:02 left.

Orlando got the lead back to double digits once in the fourth quarter, going up 100-89 on Aaron Gordon‘s above-the-break 3-pointer with 10:36 remaining in the game.

The Nets made the plays down the stretch, clamping down defensively to hold the Magic to just 1-of-9 shooting over the final 4:49 while putting together a 10-0 run to take a 113-111 lead on Dinwiddie’s four-point play with 54.9 seconds to go.

It was Brooklyn’s first lead since it was 2-0. Vucevic tied the game with Orlando’s only make in the late stages of the game and Russell grabbed the lead right back for the Nets with a daring stepback 3-pointer just 6.5 seconds later.

That gave Brooklyn the lead for good, as well as the largest comeback win in the Brooklyn era. The last time the Nets came back from as much as 21 points down to win was on Dec. 26, 2011, against the Washington Wizards in D.C.

The Nets are now 24-23, a game ahead of the Miami Heat in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, four games in back of the fifth-place Boston Celtics.

Brooklyn won because they never panicked. Instead, the Nets attacked the big deficit the same way one does when tasked with eating an elephant — one bite at a time.

They ratcheted up the intensity at the defensive end when it mattered, holding the Magic to just 38.1 percent shooting and forcing four turnovers in the fourth quarter after Orlando had hit 53.4 percent with just nine turnovers through the first three periods.

Jarrett Allen clamped down on Vucevic over the final seven minutes, as the All-Star candidate made just 1-of-5 shots down the stretch.

In the process, they handed an important loss to the Magic (19-26), who fell into a 10th-place tie with the Wizards and are now 2½ games in back of the eighth-place Charlotte Hornets in the East.

The Nets believed they could, so they did. For one of the NBA’s youngest teams, belief can go a very, very long way — as evidenced by Brooklyn’s NBA-best 16-5 record since Dec. 7.

Here are the player grades from a very believable come-from-behind win.