New York coach Mike Woodson would like to see his team lean more on its defense to help it win games.
He’ll live with a few more of Carmelo Anthony’s offensive exhibitions in the meantime.
Anthony scored 16 of his 40 points in the fourth quarter, helping the New York Knicks hold off the Orlando Magic 114-106 on Saturday night.
”Just a matter of us trying to get it going,” Anthony said. ”To get it going and doing whatever it takes to win a basketball game. That’s what we did. … It seemed like when it was time to really buckle down and try to win the basketball game, we did those things.”
J.R. Smith added 18 points off the bench and Tyson Chandler had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Knicks have won two straight overall and four in a row over the Magic, dating back to last season. They also improved to 2-1 since Amar’e Stoudemire returned to action following knee surgery.
”We were down coming into the fourth, and we held them to 17 points. That’s the sign of a team that didn’t want to lose,” Woodson said. ”(They) picked it up defensively and did what they had to do, and offensively they made plays.”
Arron Afflalo and Jameer Nelson each had 29 points to lead the Magic, and Nik Vucevic contributed 11 points and 18 rebounds. Afflalo got treatment at halftime after taking a hard fall, and scored 20 in the second half.
”Clearly we have to learn how to win, if that makes sense,” Afflalo said. ”Coach is doing a great job in terms of the schemes of the game plan. We’re definitely competing hard as players, but we need to learn how to win.”
Orlando outrebounded New York 45-40, but had 14 turnovers as it extended its longest losing streak of the season to eight games.
All of the losses have come since the injury of starting forward Glen Davis, who continues to rehab his sprained left shoulder.
Orlando has played well against some of the East’s top teams, with narrow losses over its past three outings to Miami, Chicago and now New York.
It’s hardly a consolation prize, though, for a team that may not get Davis back in action for at least another week, if not longer.
”I told our guys that this is about different challenges throughout the course of the season and everyone wants to win – it’s what makes us competitors,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ”We did a lot of good things tonight.”
The Magic flipped a four-point halftime deficit into an 89-81 lead entering the fourth.
The Knicks rallied using their size, going up 99-97 on a dunk by Chandler with 5:14 left.
Orlando’s Josh McRoberts got tangled up underneath with Chandler a few trips later and was whistled for a technical. Steve Novak then knocked down the ensuing free throw to push the Knicks’ lead to 102-98.
It was 106-102 when Jason Kidd swished a 3-pointer from the corner with less than two minutes to play.
Afflalo got a layup to drop a few possessions later, but Anthony quickly answered with a hanging 16-footer. The Magic were forced to foul and the Knicks then closed it out at the foul line.
Stoudemire played only 16 minutes, but finished with 11 points and four rebounds. His presence in the middle also forced the Magic to take more jumpers than they wanted to down the stretch.
Woodson said he is easing Stoudemire back into action.
”He’s fine,” Woodson said. ”I’m playing him in spurts. I can’t play him long minutes I thought he gave us some adequate minutes when he was in there and it’s going to be a process…He’ll back to his old self soon.”
Nelson kept the Magic in the game for most of the second half, but was held scoreless in the final period.
Woodson started veteran Marcus Camby for the second straight game, citing the defensive presence he brought to the game early in their recent win over San Antonio.
Orlando had other plans to open the game Saturday.
Nelson scored eight of the Magic’s first 11 points as Orlando built a 14-2 first quarter lead, forcing a quick New York timeout.
Orlando held its cushion for most of the half until a 9-0 spurt by the Knicks late in the second quarter gave them their largest lead at 55-48.
The Magic were just 7 of 19 from the field in the second quarter, with seven turnovers. New York took a 59-55 edge into halftime.
New York now heads home, where it will play three of its next four games.
”It’s hard to win on the road, I don’t care who you play,” Woodson said. ”The fact that we gutted it up when we had to in the fourth quarter tells me a lot. We’ve been down before and we always seem to come back. Tonight wasn’t any different.”
NOTES: Stoudemire honored his late brother, Hazell Stoudemire, by providing tickets for 30 children from their Lake Wales, Fla. hometown to watch Saturday’s game. Hazell, known as ”Big STAT”, died in February of last year in a car accident. His birthday would have been Friday. ”I think of my brother and the knowledge he gave me every day,” Amar’e Stoudemire said. ”I hope by giving these children this unique experience, I will pay forward some of the positive impact Hazell made on me and my family.” …Knicks F Rasheed Wallace sat out again as he continues to get treatment for a sore left foot. He remains day-to-day. Wallace hasn’t played since Dec. 13. …Vucevic leads with Magic with 15 double-doubles on the season.