By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
Knicks vs. Magic | Madison Square Garden
When: Friday | 7:30 PM
Where to Watch: MSG
Where to Listen: ESPN 98.7 FM
New York (4-1): The monkey is off the Knicks' backs after snapping a nine-game losing streak last night in Brooklyn. As the Orange and Blue poured it on the Nets, Coach Mike Woodson recalled last year's success, saying: "It was like old times again." The Knicks played unselfishly, leading to open looks from three, and knocked down a season high 16 long balls. They played with energy and were no match for Brooklyn's aimless strategies on both ends.
Orlando (6-12): The Magic continue to build slowly under second-year head coach Jacque Vaughn. Modeling themselves after Oklahoma City in the wake of the Dwight Howard trade, former Thunder assistant G.M. Rob Hennigan has accumulated some promising young pieces since taking over. Among them are Victor Oladipo, the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft, and Nikola Vucevic, who is fifth in the NBA in rebounding. Arron Afflalo serves as the team's veteran leader, and he's quietly putting up an All-Star caliber campaign, averaging an efficient 22.6 points per game.
The Numbers Game
The Knicks dished out 25 assists last night against the Nets, nearly five more than their season average entering the game.
Matchup to Watch
Iman Shumpert vs. Victor Oladipo
Shump is the type of player who thrives when the entire team is engaged. Not much of an isolation player on offense, he is deadly when the ball finds him off a swing pass or out in transition. He showed what he can do last night, draining five of seven 3-pointers. Oladipo fit a similar profile, although in the name of his long-term development, Orlando is having him play a lot of point guard. They are doing this for two reasons: 1) to improve his playmaking abilities -- he averages the same amount of turnovers per game (3.8) as assists -- and 2) because this year's draft class could be full of difference makers, and losing a few extra games at the expense of potential long-term rewards could be appealing to a team in Orlando's situation.
What to Look For
Knicks fans are hoping for a repeat performance after watching their team dismantle the supposed division-rival Nets. The outcome was decided long before the final buzzer because the Knicks moved the ball and worked together to protect the paint. Andrea Bargnani was once again solid in all facets, as was Kenyon Martin, who always seems to make the extra pass and the right rotation. Tim hardaway Jr. is becoming a supersub off the bench, his 12 points last night providing an obvious spark... Orlando will be without swingman Tobias Harris, and both Vucevic and point guard Jameer Nelson are listed as questionable for tonight.