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Knicks 94, Magic 93: Comeback falls short, losing streak reaches nine with no end in sight

The Magic fought back but fell short, and now the schedule gets really, really difficult

Orlando Magic v New York Knicks Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Magic don’t just lose, they lose hard.

During their current losing streak, there have been games where they were up big only to surrender the lead and lose in heartbreaking fashion.

Against the Knicks on Thursday, it was the opposite. They were down big and made an impressive comeback to take the lead...only to give it up and lose in heartbreaking fashion, this one being a 94-93 defeat for their ninth straight loss.

The Magic squandered what was probably their best opportunity to snap their losing streak, and now will need an upset against one of the league’s better teams to stop the streak from approaching or even trying/breaking the 19-game losing streak set by the 2003-2004 team...

The Magic were coming off three days rest, they saw the return of two starters in Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier, they got off to a quick start in the first quarter, but it wasn’t enough.

Orlando was hitting their threes early on, making four of their first seven attempts in the opening half of the first quarter to take a 20-10 lead, capped by an Evan Fournier triple with 5:50 left. The Magic would have just one field goal for the remainder of the quarter - a Khem Birch tip in - as they missed seven of their final eight shots, allowing the Knicks to cut the Magic lead to 26-24 heading into the second.

The Magic would make just 4 of 18 threes in the half — missing 17 straight threes in the game, a drought that wouldn’t end until late in the third. They shot 36 percent in the half but trailed just 45-44 while holding the Knicks’ All-Star Julius Randle to 2-for-10 shooting in the half. Randle contributed in other ways though, finishing the half with 10 assists en route to what would be a new career high.

A quick three-point spurt by the Knicks led to a 12-2 run to open the third, pushing the lead to 57-46. The lead reached 16 on a three by Randle with just under two minutes remaining in the third.

That was when Chuma Okeke drained a corner three to end the Magic’s three-point drought and spark a 10-0 Orlando run to end the third and cut the deficit to 72-66.

The run reached 19-2 when Fournier drained a three to put the Magic back in front at 75-74 with 9:54 to go. The Knicks soon went back up by five before the Magic orchestrated another 10-0 run, capped on threes by Mo Bamba and Fournier to take an 85-80 lead with 6:40 remaining.

Threes by Reggie Bullock and Frank Ntilikina kicked off a 10-0 Knicks run that put New York back up by five at 92-87 with 2:39 to go. Orlando continued chipping away, with Dwayne Bacon missing a wide open corner three that would have given the Magic a one-point lead with under one minute remaining. Alec Burks then hit a runner in the paint plus the foul (missed the free throw) to put the Knicks up 94-90 with 30 seconds remaining.

Fournier, who had 13 points in the fourth, followed with a three to pull Orlando within one with 27.6 seconds left in the game. Out of a timeout, the Knicks inbounded the ball to Bullock in the corner and he was then trapped by Vucevic and Fournier. Fournier ultimately tied up Bullock, leading to a jump ball with 22.4 seconds left. Fournier actually won the jump ball and the Magic pushed it down court before calling a timeout with 13.3 seconds left.

Out of the timeout, Fournier went around a Vucevic screen and then left his feet while attempting to pass the ball to Vucevic, but there was no separation between Fournier and Bullock, who tipped the ball and stole it. The Magic were unable to foul as the Knicks ran down court and killed the clock, sealing the latest Magic loss, as Fournier ripped his jersey off in frustration.

Randle finished with a triple double of 18 points, a career-high 17 assists and 10 rebounds to lead the Knicks. Burks had a team-high 21 points and 10 rebounds. Bullock added 20 points off the bench, connecting on 6 of 13 attempts from deep in what was an uncharacteristically good three-point shooting night for the Knicks, who combined to go 14 of 34 from long range (41.2%).

Fournier led the Magic with 23 points on 9-for-21 shooting. Vucevic had a quiet offensive night, finishing with 17 points on 8-for-20 shooting, and adding 16 rebounds and 4 assists. Gordon had 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting and also had 7 assists in 31 minutes. The Magic, forced to start Chasson Randle at point guard for their 18th different starting lineup of the season, shot 42.7 percent and made just 10 of 34 three-point attempts (29.4%).

The Magic catch a flight back to Orlando, where the Brooklyn Nets, will be waiting for them to complete the Magic’s back-to-back. The Nets, with the top offense in the NBA, have won 14 of their last 15 games and are currently tied for the top spot in the East with the Sixers. Evan Fournier was asked what the Magic have to do against them.

“Win,” Fournier said. “That’s it.”

If they don’t, the losing streak hits double digits.