NEW YORK – Robin Lopez had 20 points and 10 rebounds and the Orlando Magic beat the short-handed Brooklyn Nets 100-93 on Saturday night to snap a seven-game losing streak.
Gary Harris added 17 points, Chuma Okeke had 15, and Franz Wagner 14 to help the Magic improve to 6-25.
“A lot of guys gave us great minutes,” Lopez said."
Patty Mills led the Nets with 23 points. David Duke Jr. had 18 points and 14 rebounds, Blake Griffin added 17 points, and Cam Thomas had 15. Eastern Conference-leading Brooklyn dropped to 21-9. The Nets had won four in a row.
“I told the guys (that I was) really proud of the effort,” Nets coach Steve Nash said. “We've got a bunch of guys playing extended minutes for multiple games for the first time. (So) overall, really proud of them and it was a great effort.”
Brooklyn entered the game with 10 players in COVID-19 protocol, after returning star guard Kyrie Irving and MVP candidate Kevin Durant were placed into protocols Saturday.
The team announced about an hour before the game rookie forward Day’Ron Sharpe would join them, as well as De’Andre Bembry, Bruce Brown, Jevon Carter, LaMarcus Aldridge, James, Johnson, Paul Millsap, and James Harden.
“It's just crazy,” Griffin said.
The Nets signed James Ennis III and Shaquille Harrison prior to the game.
The Nets, citing the Elias Sports Bureau, said the game was the first since April 15, 2009, in which the team submitted a starting lineup with three rookies. Thomas and Kessler Edwards were making their first career NBA start, while Duke was making his third career start in as many games.
Duke's 3 in front of the Brooklyn’ bench tied it at 93.
“Our young boys again being able to every night deliver that same amount of effort, it's a credit to how much hard work they've put in since they've been here,” Mills said. “You see the caliber of players they are, the depth we have as well. These are all opportunities for all of them to come in an make an impact on an NBA game.”
Okeke responded with a 3 of his own to put the Magic up 96-93, and a wild, scoop layup by Wagner pushed the lead to five. Mills missed a straightaway 3 on the ensuing possession, and Wagner knocked down two free throws to put the game away.
“That's how basketball goes,” Wagner said. “If you work hard enough within the game, sometimes the basketball gods will give you a little bit of luck.”
Wagner is making the most of his opportunity. The rookie forward from Michigan is averaging 14.6 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and 1.1 steals, and now finds himself in the position of running the Magic’s offense due to an injury to starting point guard Cole Anthony. “The one thing we’ve said from Day One when we’ve talk about him (is that he has) a very high basketball IQ,” coach Jamahl Mosley said. “The fact that he knows when to make the right plays, (make) the right decisions. Our staff was just commenting today a little bit how much (the Miami Heat) were trying to speed him up (in Friday night’s 115-105 loss) and he didn’t get sped up. His poise, his basketball IQ, and his willingness to make the right play has just stones in these games.”
Magic: At Toronto on Monday night.
Nets: Host Denver on Sunday night.