Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 11/30/12
ORLANDO -- It's hard to tell yet just how good the Brooklyn Nets really are this season because they keep beating the same overmatched team. They should find out more Saturday night in Miami. The Nets hammered the hapless Orlando Magic for the third time this season, 98-86, Friday night by riding their stronger rebounding and superior long-range shooting. The Nets (11-4) won their fifth consecutive game to cap the best November in 10 seasons. The Magic (5-10) lost their third consecutive game. Guard Joe Johnson had 22 points and five assists for the Nets. Forward Gerald Wallace, who hit five of his six 3-point shots, had 20 points. The Magic were led by Glen Davis who had 16 points. While the Magic will begin a five-game West Coast trip on Sunday in Los Angeles, the Nets play Saturday in Miami against the Heat, who should provide a better gauge of how much improved they really are. "We'll see where we really are tomorrow," Nets coach Avery Johnson said after another easy victory over the Magic. "I want to see how we've progressed against some of the better teams." The Nets beat the Magic three times this month by a combined 59 points. For the third time, they held a decisive rebounding edge, 41-36, which led to 40 points in the paint, including 11 second-chance shots. The Nets also hit 11 of 20 shots (55 percent) from 3-point range on Friday. The Magic made only one of 11 from long range. "That's a big discrepancy. The shots fell for them, and not for us," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "It means you can't allow second-chance points. It's a huge challenge for us." After a tight first half, the Nets made six 3-pointers in the third period, opening a 13-point lead that hardly wavered. Wallace hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the quarter when the Nets pulled away. They led by 20 points with 3:42 remaining. The Magic might have taken a 3-point lead just after halftime, but their momentum slipped away quickly. The Nets, who have not reached the playoffs since 2007, had too many weapons. Center Andray Blatche had 14 points and nine rebounds. Kris Humphries had 11 points and seven rebounds. Deron Williams had 11 points and seven assists. "If I'm knocking down those (3-point) shots, then you basically can't leave us," said Wallace, who had made only five 3-pointers combined this season before Friday. "Now, you're having to play one-on-one in the post with guys who are tough to guard there." The Nets led 45-44 at halftime, riding another good start by Johnson, who had 13 points before intermission. The Magic have been plagued by slow starts all season, leading only three times this season at halftime. They went deep into the bench early by using 10 players in the first quarter. By halftime, 11 Magic players had scored. Davis had 11 points by halftime, but he struggled after intermission. Blatche, replacing Brook Lopez as the Nets starting center, started quickly with five points and three rebounds in the first seven minutes. The Nets were coming off a victory in Boston, a game marred by the scuffle that led to the two-game suspension of Celtics guard Rajon Rondo and a $35,000 fine for Wallace. NOTES: The Nets were without Lopez, who also will miss Saturday's game in Miami with a mild sprain of his right foot. Although the X-rays were negative, the Nets aren't taking any chances. It's the same foot that cost him much of last season with a stress fracture. ... The Magic were without point guard Jameer Nelson again, who sat out with a sore left Achilles. Nelson missed six games earlier in November with a strained right hamstring. He is expected to be ready when the Magic open a five-game West Coast trip Sunday against the Lakers. ... The Magic went into Friday's game averaging the fewest free throws attempted (16.7) in the league. ... The Nets are off to their best start (11-4) since the 2002-03 season. ... Vaughn came to the defense of Spurs Coach Gregg Popovich, whose team was fined $250,000 Friday for not playing his three stars in Miami the night before. "I think (Popovich) does a great job historically. Whatever he's done over his coaching career, it's worked," Vaughn said.
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