Magic-Nets Preview

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The Orlando Magic realize their rebuilding effort will take some time, but the recent performances of their promising rookies give them hope for a bright future. A healthy Deron Williams is giving the Brooklyn Nets reason to believe they can make good on their win-now mentality. Orlando seeks a third straight victory as it visits Brooklyn on Sunday. The Magic won 43 games over the previous two seasons combined after Dwight Howard forced his way out of town, securing high draft picks they believe will be the centerpieces of competitive teams down the road. Victor Oladipo was selected with the second overall pick in last year's draft and was runner-up in the voting for Rookie of the Year. He's yet to play this season due to a facial fracture suffered in the preseason, but he participated in practice Saturday and could be close to returning. Orlando (2-4) took Aaron Gordon with the No. 4 pick this year and acquired 10th overall selection Elfrid Payton from Philadelphia on draft night. The 19-year-old Gordon came off the bench to score 17 points in Friday's 112-103 overtime victory over Minnesota as the Magic won their second straight. ''This is why they drafted me,'' Gordon said. ''They know what I can do. My number was called and I was ready to go. I don't want to hear about (age). That would be a crutch, and I don't want any part of it.'' The 20-year-old Payton has started every contest and finished with 15 points against the Timberwolves. ''I'm just trying to bring something to the team. I never think about being a rookie, I don't think anyone cares,'' Payton said. ''Coach (Jacque Vaughn) is counting on me to make big plays and be ready. Your age doesn't really matter. This was a sign of good things to come.'' Orlando's rookies are providing a solid complement to holdovers like Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, as well as newcomer Evan Fournier, who scored 20 points Friday. Harris had 17 and 16 rebounds. "The fight and the character shown were positives and everybody on our team was needed,'' Harris said. "We were mentally tough to get through that barrier and to get another victory." Williams has had to stay positive while dealing with nagging ankle problems that limited him to 64 games and 58 starts last season. He's gotten off to a solid start to 2014-15 and scored 29 points to lead the Nets (3-2) to their third victory in four games Friday, 110-99 over New York. ''Last two years have been a struggle,'' Williams said. ''(The fans are) behind me now, looking forward to this one and we got a great win.'' Joe Johnson hit four 3-pointers, improving to 12 of 25 from long range on the season while finishing with 18 points. The Nets are among the best in the league in 3-point shooting at 41.6 percent after hitting 36.9 percent last season. They went 14 of 24 against the Knicks. ''Every time they made a run we'd hit a 3,'' coach Lionel Hollins said. ''The shooting was spectacular.'' Brook Lopez scored 20 after a 10-point effort in a loss to Minnesota on Wednesday. "He did come out to atone for what he felt like was a subpar game,'' coach Lionel Hollins said. These clubs split four meetings last season.