Magic Musings: Vucevic’s big night not enough in loss to Knicks

Despite another huge game from Nikola Vucevic, the Orlando Magic became the latest team Friday night to fall to the suddenly resurgent New York Knicks.

Vucevic tied his career high with 34 points and also pulled down 18 rebounds, but that wasn’t enough to prevent the Magic’s fourth loss in a row and 10th in their last 12 games. The Knicks, who had become the butt of jokes in managing only five victories during the first half of their season, recorded their third consecutive win by pulling away to defeat the Magic 113-106.

The Knicks shot better than 50 percent from the floor over the last three quarters in becoming the eighth team in a row to top the 100-point mark against the Magic. While Carmelo Anthony led them with 25 points, it was far lesser-known players such as Jason Smith, Lance Thomas and Langston Galloway who did the damage down the stretch.

Victor Oladipo bounced back from a first half where he went with a field goal to finish with 15 points. Channing Frye had 14, but all of those came in the first three quarters. And to make matters worse, Elfrid Payton limped to the locker room with what appeared to be a sprained ankle after his basket with 1:48 remaining cut the Knicks’ lead to 103-100.

Even with Vucevic posting his 26th double-double of the season, the Magic were outrebounded 49-39. Aaron Gordon, coming off the bench for the third consecutive game after missing more than two months with a fractured foot, had five points and two rebounds in 13 minutes.

THE TURNING POINT

After a dunk by Vucevic off Payton’s 11th assist gave the Magic a 98-97 lead, the Knicks outscored them 15-4 over the next three minutes.

THE DIFFERENCE MAKER

Knicks 113, Magic 106

Thomas, who signed a second 10-day contract with the Knicks on Wednesday, scored 14 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter.

STAT OF THE GAME

Smith, who had missed his only two 3-point attempts in 43 previous games this season, hit three of his four shots from that distance.

WHAT’S NEXT

Sunday night vs. Indiana, 6 p.m.

You can follow Ken Hornack on Twitter @HornackFSFla or email him at khornack32176@gmail.com.