Orlando Magic at Brooklyn Nets game preview



After his Brooklyn Nets fell out of playoff position with two humbling defeats, coach Lionel Hollins would rather focus on the challenge ahead than what has already been lost.

The stumbling Nets still have a chance to reach the Eastern Conference playoffs, though they’ll need a home win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night and some help.

Brooklyn (37-44) appeared well on its way to a third straight postseason berth following a six-game winning streak that had it in seventh place with a 1 1/2-game hold on a playoff spot April 3.

The Nets, however, have since dropped four of six to fall into ninth. They trail Indiana by one game in the race for the final playoff spot following the Pacers’ home victory over Washington on Tuesday.

Following a 96-73 defeat at Milwaukee on Sunday, Brooklyn suffered a second straight blowout loss Monday, 113-86 to visiting Chicago. The Nets now need a win over the Magic and an Indiana loss at Memphis to qualify for the postseason.

"The way I look at is that we have one more game left. We have to win it," Hollins said. "We’ll be here on Wednesday and try to close out the season with a victory and see what happens."

Hollins’ club can start by getting its slumbering offense on track. Since averaging 111.3 points on 47.6 percent shooting over a three-game stretch, Brooklyn has scored 79.5 per game and shot 34.7 percent in its past two.

Thaddeus Young has totaled 17 points on 7-of-25 shooting in the past two games and Deron Williams has scored 22 while missing 28 of 35 shots over his last three. Brook Lopez averaged 26.2 points on 59.2 percent shooting over a 13-game stretch before scoring a combined 25 and making 42.1 percent in his last two.

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The Nets, who at 18-22 will finish with a losing home record for the first time since moving to Brooklyn, might have to go without swingman Alan Anderson for a seventh straight game due to an ankle injury.

Despite their struggles, they should be able to bounce back against last-place Orlando (25-56). Brooklyn has won eight of 10 meetings and is trying to sweep the season series for a second time in three years.

Bojan Bogdanovic, who scored 17 Monday, had a team-high 22 points in a 104-96 home win Nov. 9, before Mason Plumlee led the way with 18 as the Nets held on for a 100-98 road victory Jan. 2. Brooklyn has shot a combined 52.3 percent in the two games.

Since matching a season high with three straight wins, Orlando lost its third straight Monday, 100-93 at Miami.

"Throughout this whole year we never really got good consistency in our play and winning games," forward Tobias Harris said after finishing with 26 points. "Consistency comes from discipline."

Oladipo has been a bright spot for an Orlando team averaging just 93.4 points over its last nine games. The second-year guard has scored 20.9 per game over his last 20 contests after putting up 30 against the Heat.

Nikola Vucevic will try to regroup after scoring a season-low three on 1-of-7 shooting Monday. He had 27 points and 12 rebounds at Brooklyn in November with Oladipo sidelined, but finished with 10 and four in January.