As Carmelo Anthony rests sore knee, Knicks fall to Magic
The Orlando Magic's season abruptly changed direction last week with the firing of former coach Jacque Vaughn.
There is still much to figure out before the end of the season, but they're hoping heading into the All-Star break on a winning note will be a good start.
Nik Vucevic had 28 points and 18 rebounds, and the Orlando Magic held off the New York Knicks 89-83 on Wednesday night.
"I think it was important for us mentally to go into the break with a win," Vucevic said. "Everybody has a better feel now after the tough loss to Chicago and the tough loss to Washington.
"I think we played well defensively. That's what got us the win."
The victory stopped a two-game skid by the Magic. It also improved interim coach James Borrego's record to 2-2 since taking over for Vaughn.
Victor Oladipo added 19 points and Willie Green 13 off the bench. Reserve Dewyane Dedmon also made a big contribution, blocking a career-high six shots in his 20 minutes of action. He fouled out, but it was the overall toughness Dedmon brought that Borrego said he hopes will carry over.
"We're OK with him getting six fouls," Borrego said. "It's that energy, he's flying around. ... We don't want him to get into foul trouble every night, but Dewayne is making it hard for us not too play him."
It all helped offset a third-quarter injury to starting forward Channing Frye, who left with a dislocated left index finger.
Jason Smith led the Knicks with 25 points.
New York struggled offensively throughout, scoring just 36 points in the second half.
The Knicks played without forward Carmelo Anthony, who sat out their final game before the All-Star break with of a sore left knee.
Following a string of 14 straight games in which Magic foes scored 100 or more points, Wednesday marked the fourth consecutive outing that Orlando has held an opponent under 100.
It was more impressive considering that Orlando entered the night already short a starter with Tobias Harris sidelined for the second consecutive game with a sore right knee.
But they made do without him, and took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter.
The lead stayed in that range for most of the quarter until the Magic used an 8-0 run to push it up to 83-75 on a jumper by Vucevic with less than 3 minutes to play.
Following a pair of free throws by New York's Langston Galloway, Vucevic then scored four straight points to give the Magic a 10-point cushion with 1:04 remaining.
Knicks coach Derek Fisher acknowledged the Magic made more plays down the stretch, but also took issue with some calls during the pivotal Orlando spurt.
"It was 75-75 ... and the referees missed some calls sometimes, but that definitely changed the momentum, I think, in my opinion," Fisher said. "We didn't have our closer out there, and some guys that weren't comfortable trying to squeeze that one out for us."
Knicks: Were held to 13 points in the third quarter. ... Anthony missed his 13th game of the season. F Lance Thomas (strained groin) also sat out.
Magic: Finished with nine blocks. ... Vucevic posted his 32nd double-double of the season. ... The Magic had nine turnovers in the second quarter, compared to only seven field goals in the period.
Fisher said prior to the game it will be up to Anthony whether or not he suits up for Sunday's All-Star game. "Carmelo's going to go, so I think that decision will always be his," Fisher said.
Anthony played in New York's loss to Miami on Monday, but left in the fourth quarter with a recurrence of knee soreness.