The Nets got what they needed on the regular season’s final night, as they beat the Orlando Magic 101-88 on Wednesday night at Barclays Center and the Indiana Pacers lost to the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Nets finish the regular season at 38-44 and will take on the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round of the playoffs.
The Nets started their game with the Orlando Magic very flat and found themselves down 18-10 in the opening minutes and trailed 28-23 at the end of the first quarter. Bogan Bogdanovic gave the Nets a lift in the second quarter with 15 points, and the Nets were down just four at the half, 52-48.
In the third quarter, the Magic opened up a 12-point lead, at 65-53 on an Andrew Nicholson jumper at the 8:34 mark. The Nets responded with a 9-2 run capped by a Jarrett Jack three-pointer to cut the Magic’s lead to 67-62 with 6:44 left. The Magic still led by five, at 74-69, with 3:11 left, and the Nets allowed one point from then until the end of the frame to tie it up at 75 entering the fourth.
In the fourth, the Magic held an 80-77 lead at the 10:37 mark, and the turning point happened soon after. Mason Plumlee made a reverse dunk and he was fouled, sending him to the line. He missed the free throw, got the rebound, and put it back in to give the Nets an 81-80 lead with 9:34 left. That started a 14-2 run that was capped off by a Joe Johnson jumper at the 4:56 mark that made it 91-82 Brooklyn, and they never looked back.
In the fourth, the Nets outscored Orlando 26-13 and they held Orlando to 5-for-15 in the frame. The Magic’s 13 points were the second fewest the Nets allowed in the fourth all season, second to when they held Philadelphia to 10 in the fourth on December 12th.
The Nets were led by Bogan Boddanovic, who had 28 points on 12-for-17 from the field and 4-for-8 on threes, with 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Bogdanovic said of posting a career high in a game with high stakes, “It’s a nice feeling to get a career high but it’s not the most important thing for us. We have to wait for the other game to be in the playoffs.” (editor’s note – all quotes are from after Nets’ game ended before they actually knew if they were in the playoffs.)
Bogdanovic said of getting the Nets’ offense going in the second quarter, “I play a lot of pick-and-roll, a lot of mid-range jumpers. Also, we had 25 assists again. We shared the ball, the whole team, and if we get in the playoffs, we have to continue on that.”
Bogdanovic said of wanting to give the team an offensive spark in this one, “Yeah, especially because we are a couple of games without Alan Anderson. I played a lot of minutes so it was a great opportunity for me to show up and try to score well.”
Deron Williams had 10 points on a dreadful 4-for-12 from the field and 0-for-5 on threes. Williams turned it on in the fourth, with 4 points and 3 assists and paced the offense when it counted. He said of what changed in the fourth, “I just made plays, hit shots. I think that was the biggest difference. I think early they were just playing hard, they wouldn’t go away. They were hitting shot after shot so it just took us a little bit more time than we like.”
Williams said of finishing the regular season how they wanted, “Yeah, we wanted to finish with a win. We are definitely disappointed in the last two games before this but all we could do is take care of this one and hope for the best.”
Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins said of what he saw in the fourth quarter, “We really executed. I thought early on we were tight, and we were playing not to win. We made some lineup changes and things changed. They still got out, every time I looked up we were down six or seven, we get it to two, down five, we get it to two, down seven, and we went big with Mason (Plumlee) and Brook (Lopez) toward the end of the third quarter. I took Joe (Johnson) out too to give him a blow, so I had Bogey (Bogdanovic), Deron, Jarrett (Jack), and the two bigs, and I thought at that time we started to make some hay. Then I came back with Joe and took Brook out and we finally found a couple of plays that they struggled to guard. A big play, I don’t know what the score was, might have been up two, might have been up four, I don’t know, we ran the play and Joe hit the three. That was huge. Then we started running something on the other side that they couldn’t guard. We got a layup with Thaddeus (Young), and we got a three for Bogey. That was the key, finding something that worked and then the people that we threw it to made shots. I am just thankful that our guys stepped up and did what they had to do. That is the only thing that they had control of, was going out there.
“I thought this was a big team win. We had 25 assists so the ball was moving really well. (Nikola) Vucevic really hurt us early and then we decided to double him in the second half and took away that part of his game, he still made a couple of jumpers but he wasn’t as effective inside and outside, and I thought that was huge. We did a much better job on the glass. I thought Mason coming in, his activity on the pick-and-roll really distraught some of that as well. And I just thought overall we just kept getting better and better as the game went on.”
Hollins said of Bogdanovic’s game tonight, “I forgot about Bogey. Bogey was Bogey bad. He was good. I could tell early that he had it going on. We kept trying to come back to him, get him some stuff. In that one stretch, they kept leaving him open and he kept scoring. I’d like to see that more consistently, but I’ll take it right now because we got the win and it is up for somebody else to get a win (referring to Indiana).”
On the difference in Bogdanovic at the end of the season, Hollins said, “Part of it is fitting in. A kid comes over here, different culture, different language, and being in New York as well. It was probably a good thing he was in New York though. In New York it is so much diversity here and he probably met some people that are taking him in. But being away from your family, your friends, and in a new culture is tough. Also the way we were playing early, we changed, I guess about five or six times and we finally found something that worked for the group, and I thought after the All-Star break, he had a great game against the Lakers. Then the next game, he got hurt and then he is out for a while. Once he got his health back, he started building back up to where he is now. We need him as we go forward to be that person.”