The last two wins for the Brooklyn Nets can hardly be characterized as offensive masterpieces but rather a display of effective defense down the stretch.
Given the slightly added significance of the NBA in-season tournament, the Nets would like to maintain their stout defense while sprinkling some more scoring Tuesday night when they host the Orlando Magic.
The Nets are seeking a third straight home win and a second victory in the tournament after a split in Chicago and Boston in their first two games in Group C.
Brooklyn is at .500 for the fourth time this year after making enough plays down the stretch for a 102-94 win over the Washington Wizards.
The Nets earned the win by leaning on their defense, especially in the final minutes. Brooklyn allowed a season-low 37.5 percent shooting, ending the game on a 15-2 run in the final four-plus minutes. During the fourth quarter its defense allowed 36.4 percent shooting and scored 12 points off six turnovers.
“There was just no other way. You got to win,” Brooklyn forward Mikal Bridges said. “We were down, so you gotta get stops to win. We just locked in and pulled it through. I don’t think anybody on that court wanted to lose, so we just wanted to find a way.”
It was a similar showing to Wednesday’s seven-point win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nets allowed 39.6 percent shooting, held the Clippers to 8-of-18 shooting in the fourth and forced eight turnovers.
The Nets did just enough offensively as Bridges scored 27 despite shooting 11-of-29 in a game where the Nets shot a season-worst 37.8 percent.
The Nets also played a third straight game without Ben Simmons due to a hip injury that was upgraded from soreness to a bruise. Simmons has not played in four of the past five games and could be out again Tuesday.
Orlando heads into its first tournament game after earning a 112-97 home win over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. The Magic allowed under 100 points for the third time and survived shooting 42.9 percent — their second-lowest figure so far.
Orlando compensated for its lowered field goal percentage by forcing 19 turnovers, getting 22 second-chance points and hitting 30 of 35 free throws, marking the third time it scored at least 25 points from the line.
The Magic are also trying to continue showing they are ahead of schedule. It took them 16 games to get their fifth win last year and then didn’t get their sixth victory until their 26th contest.
“It’s so important for our fans that they witness what our guys are doing right now, tonight,” Orlando coach Jamahl Mosley said. “They played with a level of toughness, they sat down and guarded. They took on all challenges.”
On Saturday, Paolo Banchero scored 26 points, marking the third time he scored at least 25 this year. He also is shooting 52.4 percent (43-of-82) over his past five games.
The Magic played without Markelle Fultz in the Milwaukee game due to left knee tendinitis. Fultz has missed four of the past five games and could be out again Tuesday.
Brooklyn is 8-3 in the past 11 meetings, including a 101-84 home win on April 7 when it shot 39.3 percent and missed 33 of 42 3-point tries.
–Field Level Media
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