A night after struggling in the fourth quarter against the Washington Wizards, the Orlando Magic returned home to take on the New York Knicks for the second time in a week. Much like last Wednesday night, the Magic crumbled late in the game, falling to the Knicks 113-105.
Once again the Magic got off to a fast start, jumping out on the Knicks 11-0 in the opening minutes of the game. Much like they did in Friday night’s victory over the Miami Heat, the Magic played with a crispness and sense of urgency on both ends of the floor. The pace was pushed on the offensive end, with offensive sets getting started faster, even in the half court, leading to seven fast break points in the opening quarter. After leading by as many as 14, the Magic settled into an eight point lead, 28-20, after one.
Turning to their reserves, things began going downhill for the Magic. The pace of play fell drastically, and it bled over into their defense, getting beat on many of the possessions by the suddenly energized Knicks. New York took control of the quarter early, getting to the basket at will, helping them jump out to a brief two point lead of their own. With their starters back in late, the Magic finished the quarter strong, retaking the lead heading into halftime, up three, 54-51.
The Magic came out of halftime with the same high intensity that they had in the opening half, pushing the pace and getting seemingly anything they wanted offensively. Elfrid Payton continued his strong play, getting the offense into quick sets and finding teammates for good looks, while also scoring some on his own. The Magic continued to score seemingly at will throughout the quarter, but were unable to string together consistent stops. A D.J. Augustin three at the end of the quarter gave the Magic a seven point lead heading into the fourth quarter, 92-85.
The fourth quarter quickly spelled disaster for the Magic. New York opened the quarter on a 21-4 run over the first seven minutes to take a seemingly commanding eight point lead. The lead hit as many as 12 as the Magic’s lack of energy and execution on both ends of the floor caught up with them late.
Former Magic man Courtney Lee led the Knicks with 20 on the night. Lance Thomas added 17, with Kristaps Porzingis and Willy Hernangomez adding 14 apiece. Derrick Rose scored 12, with Kyle O’Quinn scoring 11 in the fourth quarter off the bench. Justin Holiday rounded out Knicks in double figures with 10.
Evan Fournier led all scorers with 25 on the night. Payton finished with a triple double again, finishing with 16 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. Jeff Green scored 15 off the bench, with Aaron Gordon adding 17. Bismack Biyombo notched another double-double, finishing with 10 points and 14 rebounds.