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Tuesday, January 21, 2014
W2W4: Nets vs. Magic

By Mike Mazzeo

The Orlando Magic beat the Brooklyn Nets by 21 back on Nov. 3 at Amway Arena. The two teams meet again Tuesday night, this time at Barclays Center. Is this going to be Brooklyn’s second payback game in as many days? Here’s what we’ll be watching for:

KEEP IT UP: The Nets (17-22) are coming off a 23-point demolition of the rival New York Knicks on Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. They are 7-1 since the New Year, riding their stingy defense and dominant small lineup. Things have changed a lot since these teams last met. Brooklyn is now 2 1/2 games behind the Toronto Raptors for the top spot in the Atlantic Division.

D-WILL IN RESERVE: Deron Williams came off the bench for the first time since Feb. 22, 2006 -- his rookie season -- in his return to the lineup following a five-game absence due to ankle injuries, and had 13 points in 27 minutes. Williams said he elected to serve in a reserve role because he didn’t want to disrupt the continuity that Shaun Livingston, Alan Anderson, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett had built together. The Nets are 5-0 when starting that lineup. Williams gives the second unit a true point guard, who just so happens to be a three-time All-Star.

JOE JESUS: Johnson is averaging 24.5 points in his past six games and has probably put himself at least in consideration for his seventh All-Star selection. The Nets have gone to him early and often: he had 20 of his 25 points in the first half of Monday’s game.

NO MAGIC HERE: Orlando (11-30) wasn’t supposed to be good this season, and the Magic aren’t. They are just 3-17 on the road. The Magic are looking toward the future, and have quite the building block in No. 2 overall pick Victor Oladipo (13.5 points per game on 41.1 percent shooting). Remember that steal and slam Oladipo had in the first meeting? No matter. The Nets are fourth in the NBA in defensive efficiency since Jan. 2.