Denton: Magic vs. Knicks Analysis (12/23/13)

   

Orlando missed two tries to take the lead when it got to within one of the Knicks midway through the final period. Harris then had a dunk attempt blocked with 3:14 to play that could have tied the game at 91-all. And within two points one last time, Orlando couldn’t get the defensive stop it needed as Andrea Bargnani drilled a pull-up jump shot.

``Until we develop the concept of (doing) not just what’s a basketball play, but doing what’s going to help us win games, we’ll be back and forth,’’ said Magic guard Arron Afflalo, who had 26 points, five 3-pointers and five assists. ``The most important thing is that we did play defense in the second half. We didn’t come in here on our home court and just lay down. Giving a fight doesn’t mean much to me, but it’s worth something.’’

New York (9-18) has now beaten Orlando eight straight times. Beno Udrih, who finished last season with the Magic, finished off his former team with six free throws.

The Knicks routed the Magic 121-83 on Dec. 6 in New York, and Monday’s game looked like it was going the same direction much of the night. The Knicks broke the game open with a one-sided second quarter, surged ahead by as much as 25 points and led 65-41 at halftime.

Orlando shaved 16 points off the lead in the third quarter and held the Knicks to just 38 points in the second half. Filled with momentum and executing well on the offensive end of the floor, the Magic seemed poised to surge right past the floundering, Anthony-less Knicks before stumbling down the stretch.

``I thought we had plenty of time to take the lead and take the game,’’ said Afflalo, who made nine of 17 shots and five of seven 3-pointers. ``But that’s just typical of a NBA game to get extremely close. Then what happens is the pressure of the moment – either from the team coming back of the team against them – they tighten up once they see the lead totally evaporate. They did a good job once we cut the lead to one or two of not allowing us to get over the hump.’’

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