Rookies Boost Bench But Magic Fall to Undefeated Knicks
Coach Jacque Vaughn on the Knicks and how the Magic competed: “They’re a good ball club and they were able to capitalize on our turnovers and make shots…At the end of this game I was pretty proud of our guys and their effort tonight.”
The Orlando Magic sought an end to a 4-game slide against the only undefeated team in the NBA… the surprising New York Knicks. It’s a 5-game losing streak now as Orlando lost to NYC 99-89. The final score wasn’t indicative of the 19 lead changes that occurred. 13 points in the fourth period wasn’t enough for the Magic to keep up down the stretch. 20 turnovers isn’t acceptable, seven of which came from Arron Afflalo. Orlando did manage to spread out its point load with 7 Magic men pouring in double-digit points while the Knicks depended on three 20+ point performances to prevail.
JJ Redick started and led Orlando in scoring with eighteen points. Nik Vucevic worked Tyson Chandler hard and managed a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double. Thousands of Knicks fans packed Amway Center. It was an NYC lovefest this Orlando area hasn’t seen in many years with several “Sheeeed” and “Let’s Go Knicks” chants heard throughout Tuesday evening. Coach Mike Woodson’s Knicks side was off for 3 full days coming into tonight. It’s tough to say if the Knicks were rusty or in a daze of boredom to begin the contest. No complaints from Magic fans. Orlando looked very active cutting and overall attacking the paint for the first 42 minutes.
Coach Vaughn on Maurice Harkless: “I loved his pace tonight of running the floor, of wanting to be out on the court, and be involved in an NBA game and compete and rebound and defend and aggressively attack the basket.”
It’s encouraging to see Maurice Harkless bull right through such a highly respected center like Tyson Chandler as if he were a scrub. The St. John’s rookie had a memorable fourth game of his young NBA career. Harkless tallied 10 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 blocks (should’ve been 6) in 19 minutes.
Andrew Nicholson’s 11 points in under ten minutes can’t be ignored either. The future is bright, now how quickly can that be transformed into useful results for the present?
The 2nd quarter was delayed because one of the Magic ‘Stunt Team’ female members crashed head-first into the parquet court. A brutal thud shushed the crowd. Paramedics brought out a stretcher and the fallen performer was fitted with a neck brace and stretchered off, moving her arms and saluting the Amway Center folks to the audience’s relief. There was about a 10-minute delay before the second period began.
The Magic continued sprinting and weaving through the Knicks’ weak transition and paint defense in the 3rd period. Orlando headed into the final period down 77-76 in what was an extremely competitive game. It was a tight contest until around the 6-minute mark when turnovers and a lack of a ‘finisher’ wasted a wonderful effort. The much more talented New York Knicks squad imposed their will and pushed the game out of reach.
The team was frustrated in the locker room but Coach Vaughn chose to stay positive. In what will continue to be a trying season, the “process” of being positive will no doubt continue to be tested.
Coach Vaughn on the outcome: “That’s a good ball club at both ends of the floor and we made them earn a win tonight.”
Adam Papageorgiou runs Orlando Magic Greek and is a proud MBO contributor.