Magic Fall to Knicks Without Nik
The Orlando Magic lost to the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night by a score of 106-94. The Magic were not at full strenth tonight as Nik Vucevic missed his first game of the season due to illness. He came out for shootaround and seemed fine, but at 7pm it was reported that he was ill and would not play. Orlando was forced to start a small lineup with 6-8 Tobias Harris at center. The young Magic put up a valiant effort tonight, but couldn’t match the Knicks talent. Carmelo Anthony returned for the Knicks tonight putting up 21 points.
Orlando started the game off slowly, failing to connect on any open shots, and playing very porous defense. Jameer Nelson and Arron Afllalo weren’t factors at all tonight, and it showed from the opening tip. After an ineffective first quarter, Coach Vaughn put in Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn, and the Magic played with more energy and purpose. O’Quinn was especially active tonight in his hometown, putting up a double-double of 12 points and 14 rebounds. The other Magic players with NYC connections, Moe Harkless and Tobias Harris also had decent games, both scoring in double figures. Harkless continues to be matched up against the league’s premier small forwards on defense and is learning very well. He played good defense on Anthony most of the night, and he will be a threat on offense when he can consistently knock down the corner three point shot.
The Magic started the second half down by 5, but much the same as the first quarter, the effort was lacking until the bench guys came in and upped the intensity. The second half lead for the Knicks hovered around 15 points until a late push by the Magic got them to within 9 points with under five minutes left. Beno Udrih had a nice second half scoring 11 points being a primary offensive target with the absence of Nelson and Afflalo. Nine points was as close as Orlando could manage, but Nicholson and O’Quinn and the rest were scrapping until the final buzzer.
It was the second night of a road back to back for the Magic, and it showed, especially with mainstay Vucevic out of the game. Some things were learned tonight that can help moving forward though. I liked that Vaughn went with the bench early and freely tonight. The rest of this season is going to be all about the rookies and young players. We need to see if Tobias can guard bigger players. We need to learn if Nicholson and O’Quinn can be viable options off the bench in this rebuild. I would also like to see Harris, Harkless and DeQuan Jones on the court together for extended minutes and use their athleticism to play uptempo. This team may be 18-51, but i still look forward to every game, and very much look forward to the future.
The Magic return home to host the Oklahoma City Thunder Friday night at Amway. Tip is 7pm.
Matt Jensen is new to the MBO team and a proud contributing writer. He operates as MBO’s Sr. Sioux Falls Correspondent. Follow him on Twitter here