KNICKS 96 MAGIC 80 | AMWAY CENTER
How it happened:
The Knicks and Magic entered Thursday’s Eastern Conference showdown shorthanded. Orlando’s sharpshooter Ryan Anderson was sidelined and New York is missing Amar’e Stoudemire and Jeremy Lin. The Magic is also in the midst of a drama filled atmosphere between their franchise player and head coach.
To start the first quarter, Orlando seemed to rally despite the off-the-court issues and even led 19-11 early in the game. However, After a Tyson Chandler dunk at the 3:50 mark, the flood gates opened as Carmelo Anthony buried a 3-pointer to narrow the gap to 19-18 and Iman Shumpert connected on another long bomb to take the 21-19 lead. To conclude the quarter, Shumpert delivered an emphatic putback dunk while New York posted a 12-2 run in the final four minutes of the period.
The Knicks continued to roll in the second quarter with long bombs from J.R. Smith and Steve Novak. With an 8-2 run to begin the second, Orlando had no answer for the overpowering energy from the road squad. Anthony was brilliant throughout the game and delivered a spectacular fading jumper off one foot over Earl Clark to give New York a 56-44 lead at halftime. Stan Van Gundy started with Hedo Turkoglu on Anthony as opposed to Glen Davis. Clark and Davis could not stop the Knicks All-Star as he finished with a game-high 19 points.
Jumping out of the locker room, New York maintained momentum and avoided a similar collapse that was seen on Tuesday in Indiana. Landry Fields scored 10 points in the third to keep pressure on Orlando and he helped the Knicks extend their lead to 15 points.
Remarkably, Howard was ineffective again while facing the Knicks. The big man was held scoreless until he completed a dunk with 3.5 seconds left in the third quarter. Howard only registered eight points and eight boards in 39 minutes of action. Meanwhile Chandler enjoyed a double-double performance with 12 points and 12 rebounds in the 96-80 victory for the Knicks.
"I'm really proud of my teammates. [The bench] came out ready to play tonight and it came from the defensive end." -- Tyson Chandler
Anthony delivered another dominating performance by scoring 14 of his 19 points in the first half. Not only did Anthony damage Orlando from an offensive standpoint but he also snatched eight boards in the victory. Without Stoudemire or Lin in the lineup, Anthony has emerged as the go-to weapon for this team as it marches to the postseason.
The Knicks bench played a major role in their bounce back win on Thursday evening. Smith scored 15, Douglas dropped 15, and Novak scored nine. “Mobb Deep” combined for 7-of-12 behind the arc and they shot 17-for-32 from floor.
The Knicks completed the two-game road trip and will travel back to New York following the contest in Orlando. Friday and Saturday will serve as preparation time for a monumental matchup against Chicago on Sunday afternoon.