The Orlando Magic were hoping to catch a fatigued Nets team after their emotional win against the New York Knicks the day before, but the Nets were well rested and ready for the challenge. Deron Williams didn’t start in his second game since returning as he continues to come off the bench, not wanting to disturb the team’s chemistry. Jason Kidd‘s small-ball unit has the Nets climbing the standings, and the rest of the league has to be looking over their shoulders — whether they want to admit it or not.
Joe Johnson didn’t have his most productive night, but he got the Nets started. The rest of the team then showed up and calmly put the Magic away. Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis pretty much played each other to a draw while Paul Pierce put the clamps on Tobias Harris. Jameer Nelson is not the player he once was, and Shaun Livingston put the pressure on him to make sure that he didn’t have a flashback game.
The defense is the main reason the Nets have been able to turn their season around. They have faced some prominent scorers and have put the clamps on them all. The return of Andrei Kirilenko has improved their bench defensively and offensively. Andray Blatche continues to put up Sixth Man of the Year numbers, while Jason Terry provides the steady hand that is needed to lead this band of castoffs and misfits.
The Nets are 8-1 in their last nine games and currently sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with only three games separating them from the third seed. The new year has been great for the team, and the Nets’ run has been great for the NBA.