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Big men dominate as Nets run past Magic

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Associated Press
11/9/2012 10:58:41 PM
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ORLANDO, Fla. -- Brooklyn looked inside in its first game of the season against Orlando. With Dwight Howard no longer patrolling the paint for the Magic, it was a winning strategy.

Andray Blatche had 15 points, Brook Lopez added 14 points and 10 rebounds and the Nets beat the Magic 107-68 Friday night.

"It definitely was a focus," Lopez said of getting the ball inside. "Especially coming off that tough Miami game. We wanted to come out and just hit them right away."

Brooklyn never trailed while snapping a 10-game losing streak to Orlando that dated to 2009. It enjoyed a 46-30 edge in scoring in the paint against the Magic, who traded Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers in August.

It was exactly what the Nets needed after following up their season-opening victory with back-to-back losses, including a 30-point setback Wednesday against the defending champion Heat.

"I think for us, we had a lot of veteran players out there who really know how to play. And they know where their strengths and weaknesses are," Nets coach Avery Johnson said. "A lot of things that we've been harping on about our offensive and defensive game -- they executed."

E'Twaun Moore led the Magic with 18 points, and Arron Afflalo finished with 12.

It was Orlando's most lopsided loss of the post-Howard era and came on the heels of a 15-point blowout at Minnesota that was equally one-sided. Friday's loss was Orlando's second-worst home loss ever.

Injuries have certainly played a role, but coach Jacque Vaughn didn't use it as a crutch to explain his team's recent shortcomings.

"You have to be committed to execution," Vaughn said. "Not every other play, not every fourth play, but every single play. You have to cut hard every single play. You have to screen every single play for us to have success. And when they are not committed, it shows."

The Nets dominated inside, with Lopez and Blatche pushing around Orlando's young front line. They also got a lift from their bench, with Brooklyn's reserves outscoring their counterparts 55-18 for the game.

Orlando lost its third straight game after starting 2-0. It also tied a franchise-low with four made free throws, compared to 16 for Brooklyn.

No Magic starters attempted a free throw Friday.

"We've got a lot to work on, defensively being the main issue," Afflalo said. "But the good thing is that we play the same team on Sunday. So I think it will be a great chance for us to see if we can truly learn from tonight. ... Hopefully we grow from tonight."

The short-handed Nets played without swingman MarShon Brooks, who twisted an ankle during the morning shootaround. Johnson went deeper into his roster, giving veteran Jerry Stackhouse his first minutes of the season.

Stackhouse responded by scoring 11 first-half points to make up for slow starts by Joe Johnson and Deron Williams. He was shut out in the second half but the 11 points tied Stackhouse's highest scoring output from last season when he was with Atlanta.

Lopez also went to work early and often in the post, opposite a timid group of Magic big men. He scored 11 of the Nets' first 19 points as they built as much as a 16-point lead in the opening 24 minutes.

That lead passed 30 points early in the fourth quarter. The Nets also held a 48-35 rebounding edge for the night.

Meanwhile, the Magic didn't seem nearly as comfortable in their half-court sets at the outset and were hampered by careless turnovers.

Sixth-man J.J. Redick was visibly frustrated at times, barking at his younger teammates when they failed to move the ball swiftly enough during their offensive sets.

Orlando's remaining reserves also failed to provide a lift, collectively scoring just four points in the first half.

Sunday's game in Brooklyn will be their second of four meetings this season. It's also the start of a three-game homestand for the Nets

"Winning is the cure all," Stackhouse said. "Whatever is wrong with it, winning is the cure all. It is not as cold. ... We will even find some gas when we get home. If we lost tonight, we wouldn't be able to find some gas. I have a feeling we will find some gas.

"This is just how it goes."

NOTES: Magic PG Jameer Nelson sat for the fourth straight game with a strained right hamstring/groin. Vaughn said the team co-captain was "making positive steps in the right direction." Rookie F DeQuan Jones also rested with a groin strain. ... Nets F Gerald Wallace missed his third straight game with a sprained left ankle.

Brook Lopez (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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