Lewis, Magic get past Knicks
Rashard Lewis is bothered by tendinitis in his right knee, an injury that has flared up of late and slowed his play.
No time to rest.
Lewis scored 27 points, Hedo Turkoglu added 20 and the surging Orlando Magic nearly blew a 15-point lead before holding off the New York Knicks 110-103 on Saturday night. The win kept Orlando (51-18) a game behind Boston — but tied in the loss column — for the Eastern Conference's second-best record behind Cleveland.
"A lot of people got a lot of bumps and bruises and are fatigued and legs are tired, but you've got to get through it to try to secure the division and hopefully move into second place in the conference," Lewis said. "Right now, we're still playing for a reason."
Rafer Alston had 17 points, and Dwight Howard battled foul trouble to score 15 for the Magic, who have won nine of their last 11 games.
Quentin Richardson scored 33 points, and Nate Robinson added 27 for New York (28-41), which has lost four straight games and was dealt another crushing blow to its already grim playoff hopes.
"We've got to go 13-0 if we want to win and make it to the playoffs," Robinson said, laughing at the nearly impossible task. "But anything is possible."
Adding to the losses, the injuries are suddenly piling up for New York.
Knicks center David Lee missed his first game of the season with tendinitis in his knees but was hopeful to return for the rematch against the Magic on Monday in New York. Larry Hughes left the game in the second quarter with a jammed left big toe but said it was not serious.
But that was hardly an excuse for another poor defensive effort.
Lewis, Turkoglu and Alston all made 3-pointers during a third-quarter stretch that helped the Magic slowly open up a 15-point lead. Only when Howard picked up his fourth foul and was forced to sit for the rest of the period did the Knicks finally find their rhythm.
Wilson Chandler's 3-pointer capped seven straight points to end the third quarter for New York, cutting the deficit to 86-80. Howard fouled out with 3:38 left in the game reaching in on a driving Robinson, who trimmed Orlando's lead to 100-98 on the free throws.
But Turkoglu's 3-pointer with 1:26 remaining put the Magic ahead 106-100, and the Knicks simply couldn't keep pace. Orlando shot nearly 49 percent from the floor.
Hughes said afterward the team can see its playoff hopes slipping.
"We're feeling it," Hughes said. "We can by no means start packing it in. We still have games to play. If we don't make the playoffs, we still want to finish on a strong note."
As for the Magic, coach Stan Van Gundy shrugged off any ideas that the win was ugly.
"I think one of the things you know is that your organization is doing a lot better when people are disappointed because the point spread is not big enough," Van Gundy said.
New York was coming off a demoralizing 121-94 loss at home Friday to the lowly Sacramento Kings that delivered a big blow to its playoff chances. Early in this one, the Knicks seemed on the way to another lopsided loss.
The Magic built a 14-5 lead not even three minutes into the game on a layup by Alston and made their first six shots on a lethargic New York defense. But the Knicks would come back and take a 28-24 lead behind 16 first-quarter points from Richardson, who made his first six attempts.
Richardson was held quiet for the first half of the second period, and some sharpshooting from Lewis helped Orlando go ahead 50-40. Then Richardson took over again, overpowering J.J. Redick on the other end en route to eight points in the quarter that cut the Knicks' deficit to 59-52 at the half.
Alston and Knicks guard Robinson were called for double technical fouls in the third quarter after they got tangled up at halfcourt, with both appearing to shove the other's arm. The two were laughing about the call by the next play. ... The Magic are 2-0 this season against the Knicks. The teams wrap up their season series April 10 in Orlando. ... The Knicks will honor some of the greatest players in franchise history Monday against Orlando at halftime, including Magic assistant coach Patrick Ewing.