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Nikola Vucevic's big night not enough as Knicks close out Magic late, 113-106

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Nikola Vucevic once again had a big game, but it wasn't enough as the Knicks sealed the game with big buckets late.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Following an ugly loss to the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night, the Orlando Magic returned to action in New York against the Knicks on Friday night. Yet again another poor performance on the defensive end, coupled with stout play from the Knicks handed the Magic their fourth straight loss, 113-106

Kicking the game off, the Magic were a big sluggish, but were finally able to find a rhythm on the offensive end about midway through the quarter. With both Aaron Gordon and Tobias Harris in the lineup, the Magic were able to use their matchup advantages to take advantage of a beaten and battered Knicks team. Gordon and Harris combined for seven points, and the Magic were seven points better than the Knicks with that duo in during the final half of the quarter. The Magic didn't play with the pace that they had in wins against the Houston Rockets and Chicago Bulls, but looked much better on the defensive end, and allowed their stops on defense to dictate their speed getting into their offense. Nikola Vucevic led all scorers with 10, while Carmelo Anthony led a group of four Knicks with four each in the opening 12 minutes.

After an all-around solid opening quarter, the Magic began to struggle some. They were able to hold the lead for much of the quarter, but lapses on the defensive end proved to be costly. New York was able to take advantage of the Magic giving up open shots on multiple possessions, especially late in the quarter. Carmelo hit a couple of big shots, and big man Jason Smith knocked down a few jumpers of his own to help give the Knicks a small one point lead heading into halftime. Anthony's 13 led the way for Knicks, with Vucevic's 18 leading the way for the Magic.

Out of halftime, the Magic's defense continued to struggle. They were unable to string together any stops against the Knicks, allowing them to score on seemingly ever possession. While they struggled on the defensive end, they were able to keep the game close on offense, thanks to some hot shooting, going 12-of-20 from the field in the quarter. The biggest difference was the Knicks' ability to move the ball and knock down shots from beyond the arc. Victor Oladipo and Channing Frye each scored eight in the quarter, with Vucevic pushing his game total to a game high 24. Anthony's 18, along with Jason Smith's 19 led all Knicks after three.

Into the fourth, the Knicks quickly pushed their lead up to a game high 10 points. However, the Magic stayed resilient and fought back, chipping away at the lead before finally retaking it after a three point play from Tobias Harris. After the Knicks regained the lead by three, the two teams traded buckets for much of the remainder of the quarter. A three-pointer by Langston Galloway with just under a minute to go gave the Knicks a six point lead, one they would not relinquish.

Five Knicks finished in double figures, led by Carmelo's 25. Smith, who shot the ball extremely well all night, finished with 19 points, with Lance Thomas adding a big 16 off the bench. Galloway knocked down a pair of big three's late en route to 15 points on the night. Tim Hardaway Jr. rounded out Knicks in double figures, finishing with 13 off the bench.

The Magic were led by Vucevic, who finished with a monster 34-point, 18-rebound double-double. After a scoreless first half, Oladipo finished with 15. Channing Frye knocked down four three's, finishing with 14. Payton, who left the game late with a sprained ankle, finished with nine points and 11 assists.