After a huge victory over one of the league’s elite teams, the Brooklyn Nets have dropped back-to-back contests against clubs much further down the Eastern Conference standings.
They’ll look to avoid a third straight disappointment Sunday night when they host the Orlando Magic, who knocked them off Wednesday.
The Nets (43-36) won at current East leader Miami on Tuesday, with Mason Plumlee blocking LeBron James at the rim with two seconds left to preserve their sixth victory in seven games. They’ve since blown any chance at grabbing home-court advantage in the first round by losing to a pair of sub-.500 teams, 115-111 in Orlando and 93-88 to Atlanta on Friday.
Brooklyn was outscored 6-0 by the Hawks over the final 2:22 as the club’s franchise-record 15-game home winning streak came to an end.
"We need to start another one," said Joe Johnson, who was 4 of 15 with nine points after scoring 31 on 11-of-19 shooting against the Magic. "I’m glad this streak is over with. Let’s start another one for another month and a half, two months."
Atlanta was 1 for 19 from 3-point range, the worst percentage by an opponent in a Nets loss since Oklahoma City defeated them 105-89 on Dec. 28, 2009, despite going 0 for 12 from beyond the arc.
Paul Pierce became the 18th player in league history to reach the 25,000-point plateau by scoring 13, but he was 1 of 7 from 3-point range and is 6 for 23 over his last six contests. He didn’t play earlier in the week against Orlando but has hit just 3 of 16 3-point attempts over his last three matchups in the series.
Deron Williams is expected to play after sitting out against the Hawks. He averaged just 9.7 points on 30.6 percent shooting as Brooklyn dropped two of the season’s first three meetings with Orlando.
The Nets may find it relatively easy to start another streak at home with the Magic having lost 24 of 25 on the road in 2014.
Orlando (23-56) struggled at home Friday in a 96-86 loss to Washington, going 4 of 19 from deep. The Magic had been 20 of 34 from 3-point range while averaging 107.5 points in back-to-back victories.
Their 35 second-half points marked the team’s third-lowest total of the season. They also committed 13 turnovers over the final 24 minutes after having five in the first half, which they concluded with a 51-45 lead.
"You can’t just be helter-skelter out there," guard Arron Afflalo said. "We’ve got to be decisive about what you want to accomplish. That comes with maturity and growth."
Afflalo has scored at least 18 points in three consecutive games after getting held below double digits in three straight.
Brooklyn is shooting 75.4 percent from the free-throw line on the season but is 46 of 73 (63.0 percent) over its last three contests.
Plumlee is 25 for 30 from the floor over his last four games for the Nets, who have won three in a row at home against Orlando.