The Orlando Magic outdid the Knicks in a double overtime thriller on Friday night.
The Knicks should have put this game away long before crunch time, but shoddy defense kept the Magic within striking distance throughout the night. New York held a 14-point lead in the third quarter, but a multitude of issues prevented them from closing out.
Orlando got itself back into the game by capitalizing on turnovers. The Knicks gave the ball away just four times in the first three quarters, but more than tripled that number down the stretch, ending the game with a total of 13. Part of this was attributed to the aggressive Magic defense down the stretch. Nothing came easy for the Knicks, especially for Carmelo Anthony. He finished the game with 44 points, but it took him over 50 minutes of play to do so, and he was often double and triple teamed late in the game. When Melo isn’t in rhythm, the rest of the offense won’t be either, and despite giving up 121 points, the Orlando defense actually did an admirable job at defending in the fourth quarter and overtimes. It’s weird that a guy can score 44 points and be out of rhythm. Anthony did most of his damage in the first three quarters.
The Magic were led on both offense and defense by a career-making performance by Victor Oladipo. The rookie finished with 31 points, nine rebounds, and 14 assists, and the Knicks had no answer for him on either end of the floor. He hit a series of acrobatic layups and matched Melo treys with three points the hard way to seal things in the second overtime.
Not to take away from Oladipo’s performance, but the Knicks would have had a real legitimate shot at winning in the first overtime if it weren’t for a bogus alley-oop. Tyson Chandler actually completed the attempt, but the ball caromed off his head as it went through the net, then sat on the rim for a second before being launched into outer space. The official ruling was offensive basket interference, and while the rule isn’t really too practical, nothing can be said or done to take it away.
Even before that, the Knicks had a better shot to win it in regulation. With the game tied and just 42.9 seconds left, they had an opportunity at a two-for-one, but instead failed to register a mere field goal attempt. Melo stepped out of bounds with 17.4 left to go, but the team lucked out when Nikola Vucevic threw up an atrocious runner as time expired. You have to credit the Knicks for constantly finding new ways to shoot themselves in the foot.
On a more positive note, Raymond Felton’s survival of the trade deadline had him looking as confident as we’ve seen him in weeks. He finished the game with 15 points and eight assists, and while he withered away down the stretch, at least he put the Knicks in a position to win before it. Tim Hardaway Jr. continued his hot play, chipping in 15 points. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well, 6-16 to be exact, but he did knock down a couple treys late in the game when the offense had gone stagnant and needed someone to step up. I think it’s safe to say that he inherited his old man’s clutch gene.
The only Knick who played obviously poor was Amar’e Stoudemire, who finished with a team-low plus/minus of -19. That’s what an extra night off will sometimes do for you at 31 years old, especially when your knees are 45.
The Magic honored Penny Hardaway tonight, and suited up in the pinstriped throwbacks in his honor. I don’t care how old they are, hose uniforms are one of the best in sports. Justin Verlander and Kate Upton were in attendance, and were shown on camera so many times that every middle-aged man in America now has a newfound hate for the Tigers ace pitcher.
Charlotte defeated New Orleans tonight, pushing their lead on the Knicks up to four and a half games. They actually leapfrogged the Atlanta Hawks in the standings, which is good because Bobcats watch is downright depressing. Hornets watch will be much cooler. The Knicks get back at it tomorrow against the new eight-seed at Phillips Arena, better known as MSG South. As always, TOK will have you covered.