By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 103, MAGIC 98 | AMWAY CENTER
How it happened:
The Knicks played about as well as they had all season during the first half tonight in Orlando, their 65 points the most they'd scored in any half to date. By the 10:17 mark of the 3rd quarter, they'd built up a 25-point lead and appeared to be headed toward a similar outcome to the teams' prior meeting, when New York pulled away in the second half en route to a 38-point drubbing.
But a few minutes later, Carmelo Anthony went down with a sprained ankle and the Magic began their comeback. After scoring the first seven points of the 4th quarter, Orlando had cut the deficit to one and injected life into the Amway Center.
But while the home team would pull to within one multiple times the rest of they way, the Knicks would surive down the stretch, despite also losing Raymond Felton to an injured groin.
They can thank a dominant 2nd quarter, in which they outscored Orlando 36-14, for building up a lead the Magic wouldn't be able to overcome. It was a gritty team effort, led by Tyson Chandler's undeniable presence in the paint and J.R. Smith's welcome return to being an efficient, impact player. Smith finished the night with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Thanks to good ball movement and unselfish play, the Knicks found open shooters around the perimeter and converted on 10-of-21 looks from downtown.
Knick of the Night:
Chandler completely changes the dynamic of the Knicks' attack and he showed why tonight. His activity and execution in the screen-and-roll game was evident early, as he threw down thunderous dunks on three of his early touches. His 13 rebounds were essential to the win, and his leadership down the stretch kept the team together as they lost two of their key cogs.
The Knicks return home to face the Thunder on Christmas day at MSG.