NEW YORK (AP) — Like Brooklyn bullies, the Nets love picking on the little guys.
They beat Orlando four times this season and are 17-0 against teams that were under .500 when they played them.
Now the big boys are coming to Barclays Center.
Deron Williams had 20 points and nine assists, and the Nets beat the Magic 97-77 on Monday night for their eighth straight home victory.
Brook Lopez scored 16 points and Joe Johnson had 13 for the Nets, who tied a franchise record with their 11th victory in January and can break it when they host the NBA champion Miami Heat on Wednesday.
“We feel pretty good here at home. We’re pretty confident, we understand that we have three tough games coming up,” Johnson said. “We want to take it one game at a time, prepare hard for Miami and come out with the same focus and intensity that we had tonight and we’re going to try to dictate the pace of the game.”
The Nets rebounded from their first two-game losing streak under P.J. Carlesimo, finishing off a four-game sweep of the Magic, who dropped their sixth straight. The Nets’ home winning streak is their longest in one season since winning nine in a row in March and April, 2006.
Routed by Memphis and Houston to end their four-game road trip, the Nets quickly got back on track at home against an overmatched opponent. But now comes a difficult stretch, with Chicago following Miami into Barclays Center on Friday and the improving Los Angeles Lakers visiting next Tuesday.
“We needed this win. We needed to stop the bleeding after the two-game skid we just had and get back to playing some defense,” Williams said. “We held them to 77 points today and 40 percent from the field, so that’s a lot better than the last two games. Doesn’t matter who the team is, we just had to get back to our principles.”
Nikola Vucevic had 18 points and nine rebounds for the Magic, who lost for the 17th time in 19 games. Their last two losses had each been by two points, including Sunday against Detroit, but they were blown out of this one early.
“It’s tough to continue to do the same task over and over again, and that’s what we’re asking of our guys. That’s what we have to do in order for us to be good as a basketball team,” coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We have to box out every single time, not nine out of 10 times. For the most part we’ve done that. We will continue to work at it.”
The Nets completed their first four-game sweep of the Magic since 2003-04, the season before Orlando drafted Dwight Howard. Brooklyn led by at least 20 points in all four games.
Both coaches were quick to point out that Jameer Nelson didn’t play in any of the first three meetings, but he made no difference thanks to another strong night from Williams, who set the tone with 13 points in the first quarter.
The Magic cut a 16-point halftime deficit to seven after three quarters, but the Nets responded with the first nine of the fourth quarter to push it back to 16. Brooklyn outscored Orlando 23-4 to open the final period.
“You can blame a lot of things on why the run ended, but we had guys out there fighting, playing together and trying to win,” Nelson said. “We made a good push but obviously it was not good enough.”
Orlando starting forward Arron Afflalo was out with a strained left calf and Hedo Turkoglu was ineffective after missing nine games while getting back in shape after a broken left hand.
J.J. Redick, who tied a career high with 31 points Sunday against Detroit while making eight 3-pointers, finished 2 of 13 from the field but set a career high with 10 assists. Nelson was 3 of 12 for nine points for the fatigued Magic, who get a nice rest, staying in New York before visiting the Knicks on Wednesday.
The Nets closed the first quarter with a 10-2 run for a 30-20 lead. Williams was 5 of 6, hitting three 3-pointers, and the Nets made 11 of 17 shots (65 percent). He has totaled 33 points on 12-of-13 shooting in his last two first quarters.
“He’s had two monster first quarters in a row,” Carlesimo said.
The Nets came out with the first eight points of the second, opening a 38-20 cushion on Andray Blatche’s jumper with 9:17 left in the half.
Down 56-40 at the half, Orlando trimmed it to 70-63 after three but had to keep four starters on the floor the entire period. They rested to start the fourth and the Nets clobbered the Magic’s below-average bench, with Keith Bogans hitting two 3-pointers in the 9-0 run to start the fourth. The starters came back less than 90 seconds in, but the momentum was gone.
Bogans finished with 12 points.
Rookie Mo Harkless, who played nearby at St. John’s, scored 16 points starting in place of Afflalo. Glen Davis had 15.
Notes: The Nets also won 11 games in January of 1983 and 2002. … The Nets on Monday recalled Tyshawn Taylor and Tornike Shengelia from Springfield of the NBA D-League, where Shengelia was the player of the week last week. He averaged 31.5 points and 15.5 rebounds in two games while shooting 76 percent from the floor (25 of 33), and tied the Armor record with 39 points on 17-of-21 shooting and grabbed 18 boards in a victory over Maine. However, he was unavailable to the Nets because of concussion symptoms. … The Magic are 0-13 when failing to score 90 points.
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