It was an inexcusable loss for a Magic team that, despite being on a back-to-back, desperately needed this win. After trailing by as many as 13, the Magic came back to take a 10-point lead, before allowing the Knicks to creep back into it and steal the win.
The Magic had one last chance to tie or take the lead, but after the refs allegedly didn’t see Steve Clifford trying to call timeout, the Magic pushed the ball upcourt when they were down two with seconds remaining. Evan Fournier ended up dibbling aimlessly and losing the ball for what was the Magic’s 20th turnover of the game, and a 105-103 loss.
"STUPID MOTHERF***ERS" - Steve Clifford, saying goodbye to the officials pic.twitter.com/UEqAPGkPZP— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) February 7, 2020
Clifford argued with the refs after the game and had to be restrained at midcourt. But we all know, it was a game that never should have come anywhere near the Magic having to depend on a last second timeout and some miracle shot.
Literally stealing the win away from the Magic was their former point guard Elfrid Payton, who finished with 15 points, nine assists and a career-high SEVEN steals.
One night after committing 17 turnovers in Boston, the Magic were aggressively trying to top that number against the Knicks and were successful in doing so. The Magic made poor decisions with the ball and telegraphed their passes, leading to seven turnovers in the first quarter. When they were able to hold on to the ball and get a shot off, they didn’t make many, shooting just 38 percent in the quarter. Fultz, playing his first game at Madison Square Garden, was looking for his shot early. He posted up Payton on the game’s first two possessions, and scored six points in the first.
The Knicks dominated the Magic inside, and shot over 57 percent in the first, as they built a 30-19 lead.
Taj Gibson continued to score in the paint at will in the second, with 10 of his 12 first half points coming from inside. The Knicks overall outscored the Magic in the paint, 34-18 in the half.
Gibson and RJ Barrett combined for an 8-0 run that opened the Knicks’ largest lead at 50-37 with 2:54 remaining in the half. Gordon answered with his first made bucket of the game, hitting a three. It was the start of a 10-0 Magic run, capped by a Vucevic three-point play and put-back dunk that pulled the Magic within 50-47. Vooch gave a bulk of those points back though, fouling Barrett for a three-point play and getting a technical foul for arguing the call. The Knicks went into the half up, 54-47.
After not shooting a single free throw in the first, the Magic got into the bonus early in the second and connected on 12 of 14 attempts.
The Magic shot 39.5 percent from the field, going just 5 of 17 from three (29.4 percent), and had 11 turnovers in the first half. Five of those came on steals by Payton. Vucevic and Fultz each had 10 points. Gordon, who missed his first five shots, and Ross each struggled mightily, with both going 1-for-6 from the field with three points.
The Knicks shot 44 percent, making 2 of 10 threes. Gibson led the way with 12 and Barrett, who had missed the previous nine games, had 11 first-half points off the bench.
The turnovers continued in the third, but the Magic played more aggressive on defense and began hitting their shots, with Vucevic scoring 10 in the quarter. Gordon also snapped out of it in the third, scoring nine points in the quarter, including a three that pulled the Magic within three with eight minutes left. Just over two minutes later, Gordon capped a 6-0 Magic run to give Orlando it’s first lead at 66-65. The Magic closed the quarter on a 9-2 run, outscoring the Knicks 36-22 in the third, to take an 83-76 lead into the fourth.
A Fournier three early in the fourth pushed the Magic lead into double figures. Wayne Ellington then hit back-to-back threes to pull the Knicks within four at 90-86. Payton, following two offensive rebounds by Bullock, followed with a three to tie it at 96 with 5:34 to go. A jumper by Julius Randle put the Knicks back in front, and Gibson added a dunk to complete a 12-2 Knicks run for a 100-96 lead.
Elf has a new career high with SEVEN STEALS pic.twitter.com/8ytILFnrrh— Posting and Toasting (@ptknicksblog) February 7, 2020
The Knicks’ lead reached seven before Vucevic hit a three, and Fultz addd a pair of free throws with 35 seconds left to pull the Magic within two at 105-103. After Bullock missed a three, Vucevic grabbed a rebound with 10 seconds left and chaos ensued. Clifford was calling for timeout, the refs apparently didn’t see him, and the Magic apparently decided to push the ball up court with seconds remaining rather than call a timeout themselves. It led to Fournier losing the ball to end the game.
One of the worst losses of the season for the Magic, who fall to a season-worse eight-games under .500 at 22-30.
They now return home, where all they have to do is face the league’s best team: the Milwaukee Bucks.