NEW YORK (AP) — Mikal Bridges scored 22 points and the Brooklyn Nets, shortly after clinching the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, beat the Orlando Magic 101-84 on Friday night.
The Nets no longer needed the victory by the time the game was over, having wrapped up a playoff spot when Miami lost at Washington while their game was in the fourth quarter. Brooklyn earned the final guaranteed spot in the East and will face the No. 3 Philadelphia 76ers in the first round.
First, those teams meet on Sunday afternoon in Brooklyn for what is now a meaningless regular-season finale.
Bridges was 1 for 12 from 3-point range and fellow starting guard Spencer Dinwiddie was 0 for 6 on a night both teams were miserable behind the arc. But Cam Johnson scored 18 points, Nic Claxton finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds, while Dinwiddie had 14 assists and seven rebounds.
A season that started turbulently will end in the postseason for the fifth straight year for the Nets, who traded All-Stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in February, got a disappointing, injury-shortened season out of Ben Simmons, and replaced coach Steve Nash with Jacque Vaughn in November.
Despite all that, Brooklyn fared better than last season. The Nets improved to 45-36 after going 44-38 in 2021-22, when they had to win a play-in game to get the No. 7 seed before being swept by Boston in the first round.
Cole Anthony had 14 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Magic. Goga Bitadze added 12 points and 15 rebounds.
After being eliminated from contention for a play-in spot Tuesday with a loss to Cleveland in the opener of a two-game series, the Magic sat all of their starters while losing the second game Thursday. They kept No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero out again Friday but started regulars Franz Wagner and Markelle Fultz.
The Nets blew it open in the second quarter, with an 11-0 spurt to open the period pushing a four-point lead to 38-23. It grew to 46-28 when Seth Curry made his second four-point play of the period — giving him eight points on just two field goals — and would reach 24 before the Nets took a 58-39 lead to the break.
It was 78-62 entering the fourth, matching the fewest points the Nets allowed through three quarters this season.
Brooklyn was 9 for 42 (21.4%) on 3s and Orlando finished 7 for 38 (18.4%).
Magic: Wagner scored 12 points. … Orlando has lost 15 of its last 19 games in Brooklyn.
Nets: Curry scored 13 points. … The Nets converted the deal for guard David Duke Jr. into a standard NBA contract. Terms were not released. He has appeared in 22 games off the bench for Brooklyn this season . … The Nets finished 16-2 against the Southeast Division.
The Nets finished 12-2 on Friday, the best record in the NBA on that day.