Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic was on fire last night and it still wasn’t enough. The 26-year old 7-footer became the 12th player in Magic history to score 40-plus points, but the 41-point effort was left for not.
Despite Vucevic’s big night, Orlando drops to 1-1 on the season and fell 126-121 to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at the Barclays Center.
“‘But we should have never been in that situation anyway,” Vucevic said about the loss. ‘We did too many mistakes defensively. We didn’t get any stops down the stretch.”
The Magic won’t have too much time to dwell on the loss as they travel to Quicken Loans Arena to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers (2-0). The Cavaliers defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 116-97 on Friday night.
Brooklyn’s bench proved to be the difference maker, as the Nets’ reserves scored 64 points compared to Orlando’s 34. In he Nets’ first two games of the season, the reserves are averaging an impressive 59.5 points per contest.
Adding insult to injury, Orlando point guard Elfrid Payton exited the game in the first half and did not return. Payton was diagnosed with a strained hamstring. His status for tonight’s game is unknown.
The Magic were leading 91-89 entering the fourth quarter, but were not able to slow down the Nets’ backcourt, as guard DeAngelo Russell and forward Demare Carroll both scored 17 points. Orlando forward Evan Fournier had another solid outing, scoring 22 points and grabbing nine rebounds.
Though Vucevic and Fournier combined for 63 of the Magic’s 121 points, no one else for Orlando had more than 11 points. Terrence Ross was Magic’s one player with 11 on the night. The balanced scoring from Orlando’s 116-99 win over Miami was nonexistent.
Tied at 106-apiece in the fourth quarter, a couple of baskets by Brooklyn’s Joe Harris helped push the Nets ahead for good the rest of the way. Orlando was out scored 20-15 down the stretch and now must regroup against a tough Cavaliers’ club, led by LeBron James. Orlando with the loss drops to ninth in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.