|2009/2010 NBA Season
|December 2nd, 2009
|November 30th: Magic 114, Knicks 102
The nattily attired Orlando Magic will try to defeat the New York Knicks for the second time in four nights when they host them in a Hardwood Classics night at Amway Arena. The Magic let the Knicks hang around through the first half Sunday at Madison Square Garden before Rashard Lewis' 13 third-quarter points helped put some distance between the two teams. New York looked dangerous in that game, though, as slumping point guard Chris Duhon got his shot going, and was able to thread the needle to David Lee inside for easy buckets on the pick-and-roll. Forawrd Danilo Gallinari got free in transition and sank three three-pointers. Oh, and Nate Robinson scored 22 points in the fourth quarter during a comeback attempt that went awry because New York couldn't get any stops. Said Magic center Dwight Howard of Robinson:
"If they had five more minutes, he would have had 50 points and they would have probably won the game."
So we knew already the Knicks were dangerous. Then they had to go and thump the league-leading Phoenix Suns last night, 126-99, thanks to Gallinari's 27-point, 10-rebound double-double. They extended their lead in every quarter, held the potent Suns to 48.1% eFG%, and forced 17 turnovers. That's quite a showing. The Magic must be careful. Gallinari, Robinson, and even Al Harrington can get hot from anywhere on the floor. Most nights, the Knicks can't guard anybody, but if they're focused enough, they can stifle the Magic's offense. If such a defensive performance coincides with an "on" night from one of their many offensive weapons, the Knicks will wind up winning back-to-back games against 14-win teams. Here's how Suns coach Alvin Gentry appraised the Knicks, via Howard Beck of the New York Times:
"You can see what they’re capable of doing when they’re making shots and their offense flows well."
The key for Orlando will be stopping the Knicks' pick-and-roll, which Magic coach Stan Van Gundy praised after practice yesterday. They'll also need to keep Howard involved in the offense. He's looked sharp in their last 3 games, as the team has made a concerted effort to work the ball into him first. No one in New York coach Mike D'Antoni's rotation can capably defend Howard. Force the defense to react, set up open shots for Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, and all the Magic's other perimeter shooters. Simplicity!
Tip's at 7. It's 70s night, so if you're in attendance, prepare for tacky music. It'll be worth it to see those black throwback uniforms, though. Man, they're pretty.