Nets continue surprising bubble play with win over Magic

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Much of Brooklyn’s rebuild has been based on reclamation. Joe Harris. Spencer Dinwiddie. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot could be joining that list.

With their postseason berth clinched and playoff matchup already set, Brooklyn continued their surprising play in the NBA bubble with a 108-96 win over Orlando on Tuesday. And Luwawu-Cabarrot has played a far bigger role in the restart than even the Nets had any right to expect.

Luwawu-Cabarrot wasn’t even part of the Nets roster in the preseason. After signing a two-way deal, he’s become a vital part of their rotation down the stretch in the regular season. Luwawu-Cabarrot and two-way find Jeremiah Martin shared team-high scoring honors with 24 points at ESPN Wide World of Sports, to lift the Nets to 5-2 in the restart. That’s the fourth-best record in the Bubble.

Luwawu-Cabarrot shot 8-of-12 and grabbed seven rebounds, while Martin handed out a half-dozen assists to go with his usual haranguing defense.

Like Harris (out with a groin contusion) and Dinwiddie (not in the bubble due to COVID-19) before him, Luwawu-Cabarrot spent time in the G League, and benefitted from the Nets’ player development. And his growth has been on display.

Over his past dozen games, Luwawu-Cabarrot had averaged a dozen points. In the restart bubble, the French wing has notched three of his seven career 20-point games. And he nearly cracked that threshold in the very first quarter Tuesday.

With the Nets woefully shorthanded – a dozen of the 21 players on the roster unavailable against Orlando – Luwawu-Cabarrot sparked them right out of the gate. He helped them reel off 16 unanswered points to build a 29-17 lead with 2:52 left in the first quarter.

nets magic recap timothe luwawu-cabarrot nba bubble
Timothe Luwawu-CabarrotGetty Images

Brooklyn closed the first quarter on a 21-5 spurt to end the period ahead 34-22. Luwawu-Cabarrot had 17 points, five rebounds, shot 6-of-8 overall and 3-of-5 from deep, all in the opening quarter. He got a well-deserved rest in the second, but the Nets kept padding their cushion nonetheless.

The Nets extended their run to 28-9 over a 9:30 stretch that spanned the first and second quarter, going ahead 41-26.

And while Luwawu-Cabarrot had led the way in the first quarter, Martin had a dozen in the second.

Signed as a two-way player back in January, Martin has carved out a role as a defensive pest. But he made an impact on the other end Tuesday. His pull-up jumper put the Nets ahead 57-36 with 2:18 left in the half, and they easily held Orlando at arm’s length the rest of the game.

Brooklyn led 60-43 after a first half that saw them hold the Magic to just 29.5 percent shooting, their third-best defensive half of the season.

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