Tue. May 30th, 2023

Mikal Bridges Nets NBA

FILE – Cameron Johnson #2 hugs Mikal Bridges #1 of the Brooklyn Nets as the seconds tick off the clock as the Nets defeat the Houston Rockets to win the game at Barclays Center on March 29, 2023 in New York City. Jamie Squire/Getty Images/AFP

Mikal Bridges scored 22 points as the Brooklyn Nets secured the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a 101-84 victory over the Orlando Magic on Friday in New York.

The Nets (45-36) clinched their fifth straight postseason berth by winning for the sixth time in eight games to surpass last season’s total victory.

Brooklyn is locked into a first-round matchup with the third-seeded 76ers. Philadelphia beat the Nets in five games in the opening round of the 2019 postseason shortly before Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving arrived in Brooklyn.

Orlando (34-47), which was in contention for a play-in spot over the past month following a 5-20 start, played its second game since being eliminated on Tuesday. The Magic sat rookie Paolo Banchero (back tightness), Wendell Carter Jr. (sore left hip) and Moritz Wagner (sprained right ankle).

Bridges shot 7-for-24 from the field and missed 11 of 12 3-point tries for the Nets, who shot 39.3 percent from the floor and 21.4 percent (9 of 42) on 3-point tries. Cameron Johnson added 18, Nic Claxton collected 14 points and 15 rebounds, Seth Curry contributed 13 points and Spencer Dinwiddie handed out 14 of Brooklyn’s 27 assists.

Cole Anthony paced the Magic with 14 points. Franz Wagner and Goga Bitadze added 12 apiece for Orlando, which shot 35.6 percent from the floor and 18.4 percent (7 of 38) from beyond the arc.

Brooklyn seized control by outscoring Orlando 31-16 in the second quarter to turn a four-point lead into a 58-39 edge by halftime. The Nets held a 73-49 lead on a basket by Johnson with 5:05 left in the third goal were outscored 13-5 the rest of the period and took a 78-62 lead into the fourth.

Orlando was within 85-75 after a 3-pointer by Admiral Schofield with 7:42 left as the Nets went a little over six minutes between baskets before Johnson dunked with 4:41 to go.

The Nets officially clinched their playoff berth during a timeout after Johnson’s dunk when the Washington Wizards finished off a 114-108 win over the Miami Heat.


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