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Bogdanovic leads Nets attack in win over Orlando

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NEW YORK — Bojan Bogdanovic has only been an NBA player for six games now, but the Brooklyn Nets rookie guard has definitely impressed new Nets head coach Lionel Hollins.

Bogdanovic paced a balanced scoring attack with 22 points, leading the Nets to a 104-96 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday afternoon at the Barclays Center.

“Everyone knows who he was,” Hollins said of Croatian import. “He’s no secret. Everyone talked about him. He’s played overseas, played in the World Cup. I thought he was a basketball player. He showed tonight that he can shoot the ball. He won’t always be as good as he was tonight, but he makes good basketball plays.”

Bogdanovic’s previous best before Sunday was 12 points. He knows that he’s still a work in progress.

“My coach and teammates are trying to support me and help me get used to them,” Bogdanovic said. “I just have to try to stay in the best shape as possible. I got a few open shots and I thought that was the key for me.”

The Nets (4-2) also received 18 points and seven assists from guard Deron Williams, 13 from guard Joe Johnson, 12 from center Brook Lopez and 12 points and 10 rebounds off the bench from center Mason Plumlee. Brooklyn won three of four on the home stand that finished Sunday.

Center Nikola Vucevic paced the Magic (2-5) with 27 points, 17 of which came in the third quarter, and grabbed 12 rebounds. Guard Evan Fournier had 19 and forward Channing Frye added 13 for Orlando, which saw its modest two-game win streak come to an end.

Magic coach Jacque Vaughn believes that his team will get better in time.

“We’re a very young team,” Vaughn said. “We’re still learning each other. We just have to be more efficient with the ball, not turn it over as much and capitalize on our chances.”

The Nets led by as many as eight (72-64) in the third and held an 81-77 advantage heading into the final period.

Frye hit a corner jumper that tied the game at 89 with 5:55 left, as the road-challenged Magic kept hanging around.

But Bogdanovic answered with a long 3-pointer 20 seconds later to give the Nets a 92-89 lead that they did not relinquish, outscoring the Magic 15-3 during a seven-minute stretch of the final quarter.

Hollins went with a smaller lineup, taking Lopez off the floor and putting Kevin Garnett on Vucevic. The move worked, as Vucevic did not score a point in the final quarter.

“He (Lopez) wasn’t guarding him,” Hollins said. “He has to guard him. It’s as simple as that. KG has been doing things like that for 20 years. He’s the leader. The rest of the team listens. He’s earned that right.”

Vaughn credited Hollins’ lineup change down the stretch.

“Give their coaching staff credit for putting the different lineup on the floor against Nik,” Vaughn said. “The big fella gave me all he had. It takes a toll on you after a while. He gave us all he had.”

The Nets sleepwalked through a listless first half against a Magic team that won just four games on the road all of last season.

“We make it hard on ourselves,” Johnson said. “We sometimes get complacent. It shouldn’t come down to the last three or four minutes left in the game. We got a little too selfish and didn’t move the ball. Any time you get a win, it’s a positive, but sometimes, it gets frustrating.”

Johnson scored 10 straight points to give the Nets a 24-23 lead after the first quarter, but the Magic used the 3-point shot to take control in the second quarter.

Veteran guard Luke Ridnour drained a long 3-pointer to give the Magic a 45-38 lead. It was the Magic’s sixth 3-pointer in nine attempts up to that point.

The Nets managed to tie the game at 48 on a lane jumper from forward Kevin Garnett, but Vucevic hit two straight baskets to give Orlando a 52-50 halftime lead.

NOTES: Nets PG Deron Williams admits he’s a much better player now than a year ago when he battled through two ankle injuries that eventually required surgery. “I wasn’t healthy at all for the entire year,” Williams said. “I couldn’t do any of the things I’m doing now.” Williams has looked more and more like the All-Star he was when he first came to the Nets in 2011. … Magic C Nikola Vucevic has shown dramatic improvement this season, currently ranked second in the NBA in rebounding at 12.3 per game. Vucevic had a career-high 23 rebounds in a game Oct. 28 against New Orleans. … Magic rookie PG Elfrid Payton has proved to be a steal, coming in a draft day deal with Philadelphia. Payton, who leads all NBA rookies in assists, became only the third player in NBA history to have seven or more assists in his first five NBA games. (Oscar Robertson and John Wall are the others). … After closing out a season-high four-game homestand Sunday, the Nets head west for three against Phoenix, Golden State and Portland.

Up to the minute news and reports from the news wire of The Sports Xchange.

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