Carmelo Anthony and Arron Afflalo - USA TODAY Sports
Orlando's bench players played well throughout the game as the Magic, playing without center Nik Vucevic due to an illness, ended their four-game road trip winless.
Carmelo Anthony, returning after three games off with a sore knee, scored an efficient 21 points on 14 shots, and reserve guard J.R. Smith led New York with 22 points to lead the New York Knicks to a 106-94 victory over the Orlando Magic.
The Knicks outscored the Magic, 45-15, on 3-pointers to help them to an effective field goal percentage of 62.5 percent, while outshooting Orlando 53 percent to 48 percent from the field. Orlando also committed 16 turnovers compared to just 12 for New York.
Tobias Harris was the only Magic starter to put up a decent stat line with 14 points and five rebounds on 7 for 10 shooting, though he did have five turnovers. Rookie forward Maurice Harkless was the only other starter in double figures for Orlando, scoring 11 points with six rebounds and three steals. Rookie forward Andrew Nicholson shared high-scoring honors for the Magic, scoring 14 points off the bench.
Coach Jacque Vaughn elected to go with a small lineup, replacing Nik Vucevic with guard E'Twaun Moore, but it was another slow start offensively for Orlando. One night after scoring 12 points on 19 percent shooting against Indiana in the opening stanza, the Magic scored 15 points on 35 percent shooting against New York to trail 26-15 after one quarter. A 15-2 Knicks' run helped New York to their double-digit lead. New York shot 58 percent in the opening quarter, including 4 of 8 on 3s.
Orlando came alive offensively in the second quarter, scoring the first seven points of the quarter, to cut into the Knicks' lead. Nicholson scored five of the seven points. New York eventually regained their double-digit lead, but the Magic outscored the Knicks 6-1 to end the first half trailing 51-46 at halftime. Orlando scored 31 second-quarter points on 59 percent shooting.
Reserves Kyle O'Quinn and Beno Udrih led the Magic with 8 points in the first half, and Nicholson added seven points. The Orlando starters combined to score just 19 first-half points, with Nelson and Afflalo combining to score 3 points on 1 for 6 shooting.
New York, who shot 8 for 16 from long range in the first half, was led by Anthony's 14 points.
The Knicks were able to regain their double-digit lead in the third quarter, and led 83-65 going into the fourth quarter, thanks to more marksmanship from the outside. New York scored 32 third-quarter points on 63 percent shooting, including 5 of 8 from long range. All five 3s were made by a different Knicks' player. The Magic struggled offensively in the third, as they were held to 19 points on 38 percent shooting.
The Knicks threatened to blow the Magic out early in the fourth, as they had their first 20-point lead in the game after a Kenyon Martin dunk off an alley-oop 87-67 with just under eleven minutes remaining. To the Magic's credit, they did not give up and battled back to cut their deficit to single digits 95-86 with 3:59 remaining. The Orlando bench was responsible for this offensive surge, scoring 17 of the 19 points in this stretch. They could get no closer the rest of the way, as a Steve Novak 3-pointer that put the Knicks up 101-88 with 2:13 remaining put the game away.
There's no way the Orlando Magic are going to win too many games when Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson are playing so poorly. Against the Knicks, the duo combined for just ten points on horrendous 3 for 16 shooting, including 1 for 8 on 3s. This after they combined to shoot 5 for 26 against Indiana the previous evening. Adding Moore to the starting lineup did not help, as he scored five points while shooting 2 for 7.
The Orlando bench, on the other hand, were a bright spot as they outscored the Magic starters 54-40, and outshot them 64 percent to 37 percent. In addition to Nicholson's 14 points, O'Quinn made his case for more playing time as he stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists in 25 minutes, and Beno Udrih added 13 points along with 8 assists. DeQuan Jones (8 points) and Doron Lamb (6 points) combined for 14 points.
The Magic also did much better on the boards against the Knicks than the previous night against the Pacers, outrebounding New York 42-34.
Orlando returns home Friday night for a date with the defending Western Conference Champion Oklahoma City Thunder.