AP Photo/John Raoux
On a good offensive night for Orlando, the Magic needed more defense, especially down the stretch, to fend off the Knicks in a 114-106 loss.
It was the night of the backcourt for Orlando. Nelson (29 points on 10-for-20 shooting) and Afflalo (29 points on 10-for-14 shooting) abused the New York defense, seemingly with ease, on Saturday night. Both guards shot the ball well and, more importantly, were able to attack the rim and get buckets in the paint with consistency throughout the entire game.
Unfortunately, the tandem wasn’t good enough down the stretch and Carmelo Anthony was. It’s tough not having a closer or even a star, and in another close game, the Magic came up on the short end of the stick. For Orlando, it’s their eighth consecutive loss — a season-high.
The Magic scored 36 points in the first quarter and it didn’t seem like a fluke. Sure, New York was not particularly sharp at the defensive end, but Orlando did a few things extraordinarily well. First, they got to the paint and either scored or found an open man. Second, they only turned the ball over twice. Lastly, they hit open shots and shot 62.5 percent for the quarter.
The big story in the first half, though, was Orlando’s inability to maintain a lead after such a great start. Whether that was their own fault or just a product of the Knicks waking up from hibernation, the game shifted in the second quarter and New York enjoyed a 59-55 lead at the half.
The Magic, however, got their swagger back offensively in the third quarter and put up 34 points in the period. It all started with Jameer Nelson, who continued to drive with confidence and shoot the ball well from deep. Afflalo showed a spark as well, and despite limping around after a few tough falls on his hip, was extremely effective offensively.
Orlando had an eight-point lead to start the fourth quarter, but New York began exploiting weaknesses in the Magic defense and asserting themselves offensively. On the other end, the Magic were running out of, well, magic on offense. Carmelo hit some tough shots, but the Knicks were open near the hoop way too many times down the stretch while the game was close.
Despite Orlando being within one point with under five minutes to go in the game, I racked my brain thinking of how they would emerge victorious facing Carmelo Anthony, who at the time had 35 points and was in god mode. Unfortunately for the Magic, my hunch was correct. Without a true gunner, the game slipped away in the final minutes and the Knicks were able to close things out.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Carmelo Anthony had 40 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Carmelo was dirty in the fourth quarter (scoring 16 points in the period) and closed out the game in style.
Jameer Nelson (or Andrew Nicholson’s minutes). Seriously, though. Nicholson needs to play more. Nicholson’s playing time notwithstanding, Nelson was insane, torching Jason Kidd off the dribble and lighting it up on offense in 2009 form.
That Was … a Great Game
The Knicks got going when they needed to, and despite big nights from Nelson and Afflalo, they closed the door and hammered it home late in the fourth behind Carmelo Anthony.