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With surging Nets up next, Magic can’t dwell on overtime loss to Pistons

The Orlando Magic must quickly shake off Wednesday’s disappointing overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons with the Brooklyn Nets coming to town.

Yes, the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn, which won 28 games all of last season, is playing some of the best basketball in the Eastern Conference. Since falling to 8-18 with a two-point loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Dec. 5, the Nets have gone 15-5 to put themselves squarely in the middle of the playoff race.

They evened their record at 23-23 following Wednesday’s 145-142 overtime win in Houston against the Rockets on a night when James Harden put up 58 points. On Monday, the Nets downed the Celtics 109-102.

Friday’s game, which tips off at 7 p.m. and airs on Fox Sports Florida, starts another home back-to-back set for the Magic. Orlando will face MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Central Division-leading Milwaukee Bucks at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Both games can be seen on Fox Sports Florida.

The Magic (19-25) will look to get back on track after falling 120-115 to the Pistons Wednesday night.

They shot 75 percent in the first quarter and 67.5 in the first half, but that efficiency was nullified with the Pistons scoring a combined 64 points in the second and third quarters.

The Magic were down eight with 4:41 left to play before rallying for a 109-107 lead on a layup by D.J. Augustin with 1:51 left. Orlando got the ball back 17 seconds later on a Detroit turnover and worked the shot clock down to 2 seconds before Augustin missed a 3-pointer.

During the next 36 seconds, the Pistons got four shots, thanks to three offensive rebounds by Andre Drummond. His third offensive rebound led to his layup that tied the game and eventually — after each team missed a shot to win — forced overtime.

Orlando then went 2-for-12 in the extra period and left Little Caesars Arena with its fifth straight road loss. The Magic also dropped to 0-3 in overtime games this season.

Magic coach Steve Clifford told reporters after the game it was disappointing his team couldn’t build on the defense it played over the weekend during victories against the Celtics and Rockets. He also said the team’s poor overtime shooting was less of a concern than its rebounding and defensive struggles.

“You score 109 [in regulation] and you get a chance to make a stop to win the game and they get three shots at it, that’s a much bigger factor than we missed some shots in overtime,” Clifford said.

The Nets, meanwhile, launched themselves up the standings with a seven-game winning streak that followed their December loss to the Thunder and they haven’t slowed down much since.

The Nets, who are sixth in the East, have been driven by their perimeter play. Brooklyn ranks fifth in the NBA and third in the conference in 3-pointers made per game (12.4), and is seventh in the league in 3-point shooting percentage (36.2).

The Nets made 16 of 36 3-pointers (44.4 percent) against the Rockets.

Much of that perimeter success comes from point guards D’Angelo Russell and Spencer Dinwiddie, and small forward Joe Harris, who average a combined seven 3-pointers a game. Harris ranks third in the NBA in 3-point percentage (47.4 percent).

Russell leads the Nets in scoring (18.5 ppg), followed by Dinwiddie (17.0) and Harris (13.4).

Russell has been particularly good in January, averaging 21.1 points and 7.5 assists in the Nets’ eight games this month.

The 6-foot-6 Dinwiddie, meanwhile, put up 33 points against the Rockets, and came up huge down the stretch. He scored 11 points in the final 1:29 of regulation, and his pull-up 3-pointer with 8.4 seconds left tied the game at 131-131 and forced overtime. He also had the go-ahead basket in overtime.

Second-year center Jarrett Allen doesn’t score much (11.1 ppg) but he rebounds well and provides rim protection for the Nets. The 6-foot-11 Allen is coming off a 20-point, 24-rebound, 3-block effort against the Rockets, and is averaging 13.3 points, 11.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks in his past eight games.

Allen and Magic rookie center Mohamed Bamba were nearly teammates at Texas. Allen played one season (2016-17) with the Longhorns before heading to the NBA. Bamba arrived at Texas the following season.

The Magic, who trail the Nets by three games, will have multiple chances to gain ground on them. Starting Friday, the teams face each other three times in 16 days. They play Wednesday in Brooklyn, then again Feb. 2 in Orlando.

Home sweet home

A victory over the Nets on Friday would give the Magic their first five-game winning streak at home in five years.

Their current four-game winning streak at Amway started Dec. 28 with their 116-87 victory against the Toronto Raptors. The Magic also won four consecutive home games from Nov. 9-18, marking the first time they posted four straight home victories in a season since Nov. 6-18, 2015.

Orlando’s last five-game home winning streak came Jan. 24-Feb. 9, 2014.

On Twitter @osroyparry

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