Every time the Orlando Magic have mounted a seemingly insurmountable lead this season, the opposition has found a way to erase those advantages, turning leads of 20 or more into single digits in swift fashion. Multiple would-be signature wins against the likes of Miami, Boston, or Washington became unnecessary nail-biters.
A night on the road without two of their starters would seem like a unlikely moment to finally get that convincing victory, but the New York Knicks proved to be the perfect remedy to Orlando’s lackluster point differential. Riding a hot start on both ends of the court, Orlando earned a wire-to-wire win, 115-89.
Nikola Vucevic lead the way with 21 points and 14 rebounds, and while he only had 1 assist, his post facilitation was crucial in getting the Magic rolling early. Terrence Ross lead all scorers with 22 points, including 7 on two possessions early in the fourth quarter to cement the Magic’s lead. Mitchell Robinson was the standout for New York with an incredible 9 blocks, but many of them came too late to stop the Magic’s offensive barrage.
Aaron Gordon is the Magic’s best defensive player, so it was encouraging to see the Magic play strong defense right from tip-off despite his absence. Orlando started the game 10-0, preventing the Knicks from scoring until nearly five minutes into the game and held them to just 10 in the first quarter (8 coming solely from Enes Kanter). While he has yet to find his rhythm offensively, Jarell Martin has been an important contributor on the defensive end, and he contributed 2 steals and 1 block on the night.
With a 30-10 lead in hand after the first quarter, the biggest question was whether Orlando would squander yet another massive advantage to a giant run, but to the contrary the Magic increased their advantage throughout the entire game until garbage time.
This was the Magic’s first game against their former #5 pick Mario Hezonja, who played in the first quarter of the game like he had something to prove. Unfortunately, he may have only reinforced what Orlando came to learn during his tenure with the Magic, going 1-5 early on and only salvaging his night with free throws late in the game when the result was no longer in doubt.
Orlando travels to face another struggling Eastern Conference foe tomorrow when they face the Wizards in Washington.