Written by William Lee
Two 2-6 teams early in the season, played with urgency to start Wednesday night. Both teams played with great energy and it was a high paced game, going back and forth throughout the first half. The game was tied 25 times, and changed leads 11 times within the first half.
Orlando held a 56-50 lead at halftime, largely due to being able close out quarters strongly. The Magic went on a 7-0 run to end both the first and second quarter. Evan Fournier got it going early on, scoring 15 points in the first quarter. Fournier was able to get free in large part because Iman Shumpert was overzealous on defense, leaving his own man, gambling to get steals.
Tobias Harris went off at late in the second quarter, scoring ten straight points for the Magic. There was no defense in the first half, Orlando shot 57.1% while New York shot 47.5%.
Not even a minute into the second half, New York needed to take a quick time out because Orlando got themselves a double digit lead scoring on their first two possession. Derek Fisher did not want to let Orlando run away with the game. The Knicks responded in a big way, going on a 16-4 run, taking the lead 66-64. Carmelo Anthony was the catalyst for the run, responsible for 12 points, scoring ten and handing out an assist to J.R. Smith. But just as the Knicks were riding high, and held all the momentum in the game, taking the lead with 5:02 left in the third quarter, a minute later Anthony would foolishly pick up his fourth foul in the game, essentially taking himself out of the game.
Despite New York missing their star player, New York held the led with J.R Smith getting hot, scoring the last ten points in the third quarter. The Knicks got up by five points early in the fourth quarter, but would eventually relinquish the lead. Magic led 84-83 with 7:35 remaining in the game, and Fisher decided to immediately take a timeout, and put back Anthony into the game. Anthony hit a jump shot to give the Knicks back the lead.
It was a tight game the rest of the way, with former Knicks Channing Frye hitting a clutch fade away jumper with 1:01 left in the game to give Orlando a 94-90 lead. Tim Hardaway Jr. would miss an open three with 44 seconds left in the game, and the Knicks elected not to foul to extend the game. Orlando would drain the clock, but turned the ball over on a shot clock violation due to this strategy. After a timeout, J.R Smith passed to a rolling Amare Stoudemire, but missed the layup, fortunately for the Knicks the rebound went straight to Smith, who quickly putted it back in.
New York fouled Fournier to prolong the game, and he calmly knocked down both to give Orlando a 96-92 lead. New York quickly advanced the ball up the court, and Anthony drilled a clutch three for his 27th points of the game. Orlando again got the ball to Fournier, who was fouled, but this time would miss his second free throw, giving New York a chance to tie, or win the game with the score 97-95.
New York called a timeout, and as the play developed, it looked like it was a last second opportunity for Carmelo Anthony in the post. Instead of going for the tie, and to New York’s best player, J.R. Smith took it upon himself to take a three, three feet behind the line, going for the win. Airball…
Derek Fisher on the last possession of the game “That wasn’t exactly how we drew it up.” Evan Fournier scored a career high 28 points, and helped the Magic send the Knicks to their sixth straight defeat.