Brooklyn Nets player grades: Nets survive against a scrappy Magic team

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Upon finding out the news that Kevin Durant (shoulder) would not be available in this contest, the Nets knew Friday’s matchup with the Orlando Magic wouldn’t be as easy as originally expected.. The Magic recognized this too right off the tip off and they capitalized by opening up a 19-point lead. James Harden led a comeback for the Nets to get a win that moved Brooklyn to the top of the Eastern Conference standings.

It all started on the defensive end for the Nets. After Orlando scored 41 points in just the first period, Brooklyn clamped down on that end to hold them to 21 points for both the second and third quarter. It was only a matter of time before the offense caught up and it most certainly did.

James Harden (36 PTS, 10 REBS, 8 ASTS) was willing his way to the free-throw line and he made 19 of his 20 shots from the stripe. Patty Mills (22 PTS) came through as well, putting up his second consecutive 20-point performance as a starter on 9-of-13 accuracy from the field.

Off the bench, James Johnson (17 PTS, 10 REBS) gave Brooklyn some much needed energy, especially on defense, and his 8-of-11 shooting from the field only put the icing on the cake. For LaMarcus Aldridge (15 PTS, 5 REBS), he was able to make some timely shots in the fourth quarter for the Nets and it was just enough to help seal the deal.

Head coach Steve Nash’s squad finished the contest with an impressive 13 blocks while also turning over the ball over only 11 times. The team’s shooting wasn’t up to par from deep, going 30% from downtown, but again, it was just enough.

Brooklyn will be back in action on Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland.

James Harden: B+

James Harden (36 PTS, 10 REBS, 8 ASTS) gave the Nets everything he had. Not only did he take on the primary scoring role for the team with Kevin Durant out, but he also facilitated for the Nets as well. His assertiveness got him to the free-throw line to shoot 20 times, which is what we expect from the crafty guard. Defensively, he was extremely active on his way to picking up three steals and blocking two shots. Logging 41 minutes in the contest and putting up the numbers that he did just goes to show how bad he wanted to win this game.

Unfortunately, Harden did not have his usual shooting touch. He went 7-of-25 from the field and 3-of-13 from three. To make matters worse, he had six turnovers.

Patty Mills: A+

Patty Mills (22 PTS, 4 3PM) is slowly finding himself as the season goes on. On an impressive 9-of-13 shooting from the field, Mills dropped 22 points. With Joe Harris out, he had to be the go-to guy to guy from the perimeter to provide spacing for the offense and he did just that while also providing the other intangibles he usually brings to the table defensively and in transition.

James Johnson: A

James Johnson (17 PTS, 10 REBS) was big time for Brooklyn against the Magic. He logged the most minutes for any player coming off the bench for the team with 25 and it was no surprise why. Johnson was feeling it offensively, going 8-of-11 from the field while even knocking down a three. Defensively, he brought the same physicality and energy he provides night in and night out. He should have found a way to keep his fouls down though, he picked up five.

With a performance like this where Johnson dropped a season-high in points and rebounds, this is only going to put more stress on head coach Steve Nash when he starts distributing minutes when the whole team is back.

LaMarcus Aldridge: A

LaMarcus Aldridge (15 PTS, 5 REBS) is carving out a role for himself in the fourth quarter playing with this team: Mr. Reliable. In the final period when the Magic were building momentum, he just kept getting bucket after bucket while also having his way in the interior, especially on the offensive glass.

His accuracy was not the same though. Going 7-of-16 from the field, which is 44%, is far from the elite efficiency he displayed in the games prior to this one. Aldridge needs to start getting back to that.

Jevon Carter: B

Jevon Carter (6 PTS, 4 REBS) brought the intensity for Brooklyn coming off the bench. When the Magic built their 19-point lead and the Nets were chipping away at it, he was struggling from the field offensively, but he founds ways to disrupt Orlando’s offense with his ball pressure like usual.

Trailing by nine going into the second half, Carter was thrown in with the starting lineup with Bruce Brown (left hamstring tightness) out and he stepped up in the role. As his shooting woes continues, Carter will eventually start knocking them down more consistently. As long as he keeps shooting.

DeAndre Bembry: A-

DeAndre Bembry (7 PTS, 3 REBS) was a menace defensively in his first start this season. He just could not find his rhythm from deep, going 0-of-2 from there. Bembry was not able to provide much floor spacing for the team as well, but his defense was needed to get the win. He tied James Harden with the most minutes played in the contest with 41 because of it.

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