In a wicked reversal of fortune from one week ago, the Orlando Magic allowed the New York Knicks to walk into their building and pick-and-roll them out of it, dropping the game by a final score of 105-95. Hedo Turkoglu's 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists weren't enough to counter the Knicks' high-scoring duo of Al Harrington (a game-high 27) and Wilson Chandler (22). Orlando's league-best defense offered little resistance to the Knicks, who were getting open jumpers for Harrington and Chandler or a layup for David Lee on seemingly every possession. The poor perimeter defense, poor help defense, and poor defensive rebounding all added up. Orlando's loss, coupled with the Boston Celtics' defeat of the Miami Heat, puts Orlando 2 games behind Boston for the Eastern Conference's second seed, with three games left for each team to play. In other words, here are your third-place Orlando Magic.
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Last Friday, when the Magic crushed the league-best Cleveland Cavaliers on national television, seems like so far ago. Orlando has offered four consecutive lackluster performances that makes one wonder just how focused they are.
I believe I'm allowed two "the Magic didn't try, so why should I?" recaps a year. The first came on Halloween, when Rudy Gay drilled a jumper over Keith Bogans at the buzzer to give the Memphis Grizzlies an 86-84, come-from-behind victory. This one will be the second. The playoffs start a week from Saturday, and for the Magic to repeatedly lose Lee and his rolls to the bucket, to repeatedly fail to get Dwight Howard enough deep touches, to repeatedly fail to move the ball adequately... it just doesn't bode well. An optimist might argue this game could serve as a wake-up call for the Magic, who could win their last 3 games and finish the season strong; I'd counter by mentioning that the Magic's late-season wake-up call was last Wednesday in another home loss to a lottery-bound team from the Atlantic Division, the Toronto Raptors. No excuses for another poor effort just nine days later. This loss, like every other loss, counts only once in the standings. But this one feels like so much more than one, doesn't it? A second-round matchup with Boston looms, sans homecourt advantage. Gulp.
The Magic will look to get back on track tomorrow in their first and only visit to New Jersey this season.