- Mike Mazzeo, ESPN Staff Writer
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WHAT IT MEANS: No wonder the Nets are willing to give up Brook Lopez and half a decade’s worth of first-round draft picks for Dwight Howard. Orlando’s 26-year-old center dominated New Jersey on the interior, snatching 24 rebounds to go along with 16 points, three blocks and three steals in the Magic’s 94-78 victory over the Nets on Thursday night at Amway Arena. New Jersey (1-2) has now lost eight straight to the Magic (2-1) and 12 of its last 13.
D-12 > D-WILL: While Howard was a force, Deron Williams' shooting struggles continued. The 27-year-old point guard missed all six of his field goals in the first half and didn’t record his first bucket until the 9:52 mark of the third quarter. Williams finished with 10 points and seven assists on 2-for-12 shooting. He’s now shooting 28.9 percent from the field to start the season (13-for-45) and has 16 turnovers.
TURNING POINT: The Nets trailed by as many as 20 in the second quarter, but rallied back after Howard picked up his third foul behind rookie first-round pick MarShon Brooks, who scored 10 points in seven minutes. They ended up closing the first half on a 14-3 run to trail by six at the break. The Nets got as close as three in the second half. Brooks, once again providing a scoring spark off the bench, finished with 17 points in 20 minutes.
HERE’S YOUR FIRST PROBLEM: The Nets set new season-highs for first quarter points (16) and field goals (six). If only that was a good thing. New Jersey trailed by 12 after the opening 12 minutes. The Nets are now averaging 13.3 points per first quarter this season.
IT’S GETTING OLD: Knicks and Wizards fans booed Kris Humphries pretty badly, but Magic fans weren’t as tough. Maybe -- more like hopefully -- the fad is dying. On the court, Humphries recorded a quiet nine points and 10 rebounds.
CHANGING IT UP: Coach Avery Johnson elected to move Sundiata Gaines and Mehmet Okur into the starting five. Anthony Morrow and Johan Petro came off the bench. After scoring just two points in his first 40 minutes with the Nets, Okur asserted himself on the offensive end, finishing with nine points and six rebounds in 25 minutes. Meanwhile, Morrow has still yet to find the touch from the perimeter. He went 2-for-10. Newcomer DeShawn Stevenson drained three 3-pointers and finished with nine points.
STAT OF THE NIGHT: The Magic outscored the Nets 42-26 in the paint. New Jersey has now shot under 40 percent from the field in each of its first three games this season.
UP NEXT: Nets at Hawks, Friday night at 7:30 p.m.
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