Nets hold on, finish home-and-home sweep of Magic
Here is the bad news for the Nets: They are struggling to get their star backcourt players on the same page offensively.
And here is the good news: They really didn't need to be on the same page Sunday to beat the injury-depleted and dreadful-shooting Orlando Magic, 82-74, at the Barclays Center.
Brook Lopez scored 20 points and Kris Humphries grabbed 21 rebounds as the Nets completed a home-and-home sweep of the Magic. Deron Williams had 17 points and backcourt buddy Joe Johnson, who was brought in during the offseason to add some firepower, shot 3-for-13 and scored 13 points.
"We just haven't gotten into a rhythm yet," Williams said. "I know Joe hasn't gotten into a rhythm yet. It's just tough trying to find our spots and disburse the scoring."
Johnson, who brought a career average of 17.8 points per game into this season, is averaging 13.6 in his first five games as a Net. "It's a good thing we played well on defense," he said. "Sooner or later we're going to figure it out offensively."
The Nets (3-2) defeated the Magic, 107-68, in Orlando on Friday night and took an early 20-point lead Sunday. The lead dwindled to 75-70 in the fourth quarter before Williams hit a 21-footer to end a four-minute Nets stretch without a field goal.
"Mentally, we're not ready to play a whole game," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "Orlando is a scrappy team."
More like a scraggily one. Suffice it to say, the post-Dwight Howard era in Orlando has not been pretty. Like Friday night, Orlando was without three key injured players: Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu. And the Magic again struggled to put the ball in the hole.
Orlando made only 36.1 percent of its shots (30-for-83) -- though the Nets weren't much better at 37.2 percent -- and only 8.3 percent of its three-pointers (1-for-12). Aaron Afflalo and Glen Davis led the Magic with 19 points each.
The Nets won't be playing a team as problem-laden as the Magic every night, and they also know they have to find a way to get Joe Johnson in sync with his new teammates. Avery Johnson said he isn't worried. Said the coach: "Joe has to just keep shooting the ball with his teammates in practice, and he will be fine."
Notes & quotes: Avery Johnson felt his heart in his throat midway through the fourth quarter when Williams missed a three-pointer and landed awkwardly on a defender's foot. Williams, who has bone spurs in his left ankle, looked to be favoring that foot for several possessions afterward. Williams said after the game that the ankle is fine, but both he and his coach thought a foul should have been called on the play. "It was supposed to be a foul," Avery Johnson said. "It's definitely a dangerous play and it should have been a foul." . . . Gerald Wallace will return to practice Monday after missing his fourth straight game with a sprained ankle. If all goes well, he could be back on the court Tuesday when the Nets host Cleveland . . . MarShon Brooks missed his second straight game after spraining his ankle in the team's morning shootaround in Orlando on Friday. Avery Johnson hopes Brooks will practice Monday, but Brooks isn't sure if he will be able to do so.