Nets stop the Magic

April 11, 2009 8:24:12 PM PDT
With less than a week left in what had been a great season, the Orlando Magic are heading in the wrong direction, and that's not all that is wrong. The Magic not only saw their bid for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference end with a 103-93 loss to the New Jersey Nets on Saturday night, they also endured the sight of Hedo Turkoglu being helped off the court in the fourth quarter with a sprained left ankle.

Coach Stan Van Gundy did not know the extent of the injury, but it has to be a concern with his team playing poorly and knowing that fellow forward Rashard Lewis is battling tendinitis in his right knee.

"It was terrible," Van Gundy said after the Magic (58-22) lost their second straight and third in four. "We're playing with no energy and lack of defensive commitment. When you do that you're going to get killed and we got dominated tonight."

Vince Carter led the way for New Jersey with 27 points and nine assists, but this also was a Nets' starting lineup that featured three rookies - center Brook Lopez, forward Ryan Anderson and guard Chris Douglas-Roberts.

"We are playing to win," Carter said. "I don't want to disrespect the game. I want to give an effort and come to play.

We're not trying to play spoilers. This is about us and that's what it has been about all year."

Keyon Dooling added 12 points and 10 assists for the Nets, who played without All-Star guard Devin Harris (shoulder). Lopez added 13 points and 11 rebounds for the Nets, who were eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week. Douglas-Roberts had 10 points and Anderson nine.

"It was a good game for us," Dooling said after the Nets shot 54 percent from the field and 55 percent from 3-point range. "You can't look back and say we didn't we play like this all the time.

Good teams in this league do it every night. Mediocre teams do it some nights. We're learning."

Turkoglu, who was going to get limited minutes in the last two games according to Van Gundy, had 16 points before being hurt. Tony Battie and Mickael Pietrus added 14 points apiece, while Dwight Howard had an off night with seven points and eight rebounds.

Turkoglu was not in the locker room after the game but Howard said he believed all he had was a twisted ankle.

"I don't know what to call this," Howard said of the team's play. "I just know we have to get out of it soon or we are going to be in trouble come playoff time. We have to do something about this."

Orlando, which will be the No. 3 seed in the East, came into the game needing to win its final three games and have Boston (60-19) lose its final three to get the second slot behind LeBron James and the Cavaliers.

However, Van Gundy noted that the chances of that were slim and he elected to give Lewis (17.7 points) the next two games off to rest tendinitis in his right knee.

Orlando stayed close for a quarter playing its fourth game in five nights, but the Nets pushed a four-point first-quarter lead to 10 at the half behind 11 points from Josh Boone. They increased the margin to 15 in the third quarter when Carter hit consecutive 3-pointers for a 73-58 lead.

"The biggest thing is the defense," Howard said. "We're not helping and when we do, the next man isn't there. We got to get it going before the playoffs start."

Orlando hung around until midway through the fourth quarter, getting within 87-82 on a short jumper by Anthony Johnson with 7:37 to play.

Bobby Simmons then hit one of the Nets' 11 3-pointers and Orlando never got close again.

Notes: Van Gundy said Lewis would also sit out Monday against Milwaukee, adding that Howard would have their minutes cut in the final two games. ...The first and second quarters ended with buzzer beaters. Carter hit a 3-pointer at the end of the first and Rafer Alston hit a jumper for the Magic just before the half. Alston finished with 13 points and eight assists.


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