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Nets look for more success at home vs. Magic
The last time the Brooklyn Nets played a home game, they produced their best showing of the season.
The Nets will get several chances in the upcoming weeks to produce more home victories starting on Monday night when they host the Orlando Magic at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Brooklyn (13-23) is 7-10 at home (6-9 in Brooklyn) so far but its last appearance on its homecourt was a resounding 119-84 win over the Washington Wizards on Dec. 22.
Starting Monday, the Nets play eight of their next 10 games at home, and the second meeting with the Magic is the opener of a five-game homestand.
The Nets beat the Magic in their home opener on Oct. 20 and won their first three home games. Since then they are 4-10 at home, though two of those games were "home games" against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Miami Heat played in Mexico City.
Including the games in Mexico, the Nets are averaging 108.7 points per game at home, but they are shooting 43.9 percent and hitting on 34.7 percent of their 3-pointers.
The win over Washington in the Nets' most recent home game is part of a 2-8 stretch that has seen the Nets allow 107.2 points. Brooklyn is returning home after concluding a five-game trip at 1-4 with Sunday's 108-105 loss to the Boston Celtics.
After leading by 38 in a 111-87 win at Miami Friday, the Nets fell behind by 11 in the opening quarter Sunday.
"We're obviously on a better pace in terms of getting wins than last year, right? So, there's improvement," Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. "The next step is to be a little more consistent. I tell our guys I'd grade us as a below-average team, we're not in that average window yet. And that's where we've got to get to, and consistency, that's what we're looking for."
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson posted a double-double with 22 points and 12 rebounds against Boston and is averaging 16.4 points and 7.9 rebounds in his last 10 games.
Orlando (12-25) enters its second visit to Brooklyn missing Nikola Vucevic, who scored 41 points on six 3-pointers during its first trip, a 126-121 Nets win. Vucevic underwent left hand surgery last Wednesday after getting injured in Orlando's loss to Washington on Dec. 23.
Injuries are among the causes for Orlando's rapid descent from a surprising 8-4 start. Since a 16-point win at Phoenix on Nov. 10, the Magic are 4-21 in their last 25 games.
Five of those losses have occurred when Orlando held a double-digit lead at some point. The Magic held an 18-point lead early in the third quarter and wound up with a 117-111 home loss to the Miami Heat on Saturday.
Orlando was outscored 67-43 after taking the 18-point lead on its first possession of the third quarter. The Magic also allowed the Heat to shoot 62.8 percent (27 of 43) after halftime and couldn't stop Miami guards Tyler Johnson and Goran Dragic, who combined for 43 points on 18-of-26 shooting in the second half.
In this 25-game slide, the Magic are allowing opponents to score 111.9 points per game and shoot 47.5 percent. Saturday marked the 18th time this season an opponent scored at least 110 on the Magic and the 18th instance an opponent shot at least 47 percent.
"Very disappointing. Very disappointed," Orlando point guard Elfrid Payton said. "Another game where we played well, but we just didn't play a complete game."
If there was good news to emerge from Orlando's latest loss, it was Aaron Gordon's performance. In his second game back from a five-game absence due to a calf injury, Gordon scored 39 points on 14-of-22 shooting.
In the five games before the injury, Gordon averaged 15 points on 39.6 percent shooting.
Gordon's performance highlighted some of the unevenness to Orlando's latest loss. It occurred on a night when the Magic shot 54.3 percent, and it was their third loss in nine games when shooting at least 50 percent.
"It's disappointing, man, because I thought we fought and played with the right energy, but we just had a really bad defensive second half," said Magic forward Evan Fournier, who finished with 23 points, "When you have to pick the ball up out of the net, you can't run. So, this was a tough one."
The teams split the first two meetings with each winning a high-scoring game on its home court. Gordon missed the first meeting in Brooklyn with a calf injury but scored a career-high 41 in Orlando's 125-121 win on Oct. 24 when the Nets blew a 12-point lead.
Orlando has won seven of the last nine meetings with Brooklyn.
Updated January 1, 2018