The KnicksJournal.com team was in Orlando to watch the Knicks and Magic rumble at the Amway Center on Tuesday night.
Coincidentally enough, the most rumbling came from Magic fans, who were seemingly very excited that their team stayed in the game as long as they did.
As fate would have it though, New York fans came out in force as the Amway Center seemed like a sea of orange and blue “number seven”jerseys. Faint “Let’s Go Knicks!” chants could be heard around the arena, and it was clear the opponent was represented quite well (sometimes better than the Magic), even on the road.
The contest was a rather mundane one for the Knicks’ offense, but as Coach Mike Woodson has said repeatedly, if the team’s defense is on point, they will more often than not come out victorious.
The Knicks’ kept the Magic down long enough to come away with a 99-89 win, limiting their opponent to 13 fourth quarter points.
But the rest of the game didn’t come so easy for the Knicks. Moving the ball well, the Magic spread the floor and fired from all cylinders. Dishing out nearly twice as many assists as New York did (28 to the Knicks’ 15), the Magic had seven players score in double-figures. What’s more, the home team also out-rebounded the Knicks by a considerable margin, and it showed. Orlando was aggressive on the boards, and their offensive efforts were paced by a bevy of second-chance opportunities.
Consider everything the Magic actually seemed to do well in this one, and then envision the Knickerbockers doing the exact opposite. Fluidity was not present in New York’s offensive flow, which caused a complete stoppage on that side of the floor. A player that has emerged multiple times already this season, J.R. Smith delivered as “X-Factor” for his team once again. One of the more efficient members of his team, the guard still came up in the clutch with 21 points off the bench.
Carmelo Anthony did in fact score more, pouring in 25 points of his own, but Orlando didn’t make it easy for him. Swarming the forward with double-teams as they prevented him from penetrating, the Magic limited Anthony to centering his offense around pull up jumpers.
Luckily for the Knicks, Raymond Felton stepped up as second-in-command too. The point guard had 21 points. Though he only converted 9 of his shot attempts (out of a total 23), it was Felton’s fearless attitude that helped his team sink the Magic in the later goings.
Aside from those three contributors, however, the Knicks’ offense didn’t have the wheels turning too efficiently in motion on Tuesday. Thus, it was time to turn up the dial on the team’s defensive intensity.
And that’s exactly what they did. From Anthony barking and jabbing for the ball against the husky Glen Davis, to Smith attempting to hang on for jump balls, the harassment on defense was present.
From there, the Knicks’ second unit turned some heads on defense as well. Though he only played seven minutes, Pablo Prigioni continues to prove why he deserves more playing time. His agility and quick hands are constantly throwing off opposing floor generals. And while he failed to help spread the floor much on the offensive end, Steve Novak’s excellent help defense was enough to warrant keeping him on the court for almost 20 minutes.
Someone not starring on defense for the Knicks in the contest, however, was Tyson Chandler. Though he did end up leading New York in plus/minus, the big man appeared way too exhausted for his own good. His lazy effort was evident in the way that he trotted back on defense, and he allowed Orlando’s big men to blow by him to the basket. He was sent to the bench early in the first half with foul trouble.
Aside from Chandler, though, the Knicks’ displayed just enough extra pep in their step to come away with a win. Things certainly won’t be so easy for the team in San Antonio against the Spurs on Thursday.
A big highlight of the Magic’s gritty effort was St. John’s’ own Mo Harkless’ spark off the bench. The forward was scrappy all game long, grabbing rebounds and putting the ball back in the basket for a few second-chance points. Finishing with 10 points, and 7 rebounds, Harkless also swatted away 4 shots.
A fun performance during a timeout at the Amway Center turned terrifying when cheerleader Jamie Woode was dropped and hit the hardwood head first. As she stayed down, Knicks’ trainers and local paramedics attended to her and finally got her off the ground. She waved to the cheering crowd as medical officials whisked her away to the hospital. We at KnicksJournal.com wish her the best in her recovery.