Well it wasn’t pretty by any means, but a win is a win. The Knicks used a fourth-quarter surge to pull away from the young and rag tag Magic group on Tuesday night in Orlando to win 99-89. It is another double digit win for the Knickerbockers who improve to 5-0, still the NBA’s lone unbeaten team. This game had the feeling of a trap game from the beginning as the Knicks hadn’t played in four days following the fast start to the season. The Magic came out with a ton of energy on both ends of the floor and gave the Knicks all they could handle for 3 ½ quarters. The Magic, who came into the game averaging a league-worst 87 points per game, were able to drop 53 first half points on the Knicks (the best defensive team in the league thus far). The Knicks defense clamped down in the second half however, and was the catalyst in the fourth quarter as the Magic squeaked out only 13 points in the game’s final quarter. Carmelo Anthony led the way for the Knicks with 25 points and 8 rebounds, and J.R. Smith was a huge spark of the bench with 21 points, hitting a lot of big buckets to take the Knicks out of some funks to go along with a couple of steals. J.J Redick led the Magic in scoring with 18. The Knicks now sit at 5-0 and have an off-day tomorrow before they head out west for a tough back-to-back against the Spurs and Grizzlies. Here are a few notes I took away from tonight’s game:
-The box score might not show it, but Jason Kidd was key to the Knicks victory tonight. They were clinging to just a 1 point lead when Kidd checked in half-way through the fourth quarter. He knocked down a three, and found a couple of open shots for other guys to help the Knicks separate themselves from the Magic. Kidd has been a huge part of the Knicks early-season success, silencing a lot of people who thought he didn’t have much left in the tank. He played 32 minutes tonight which is probably a little too much for him at this age, but he played an outstanding fourth quarter tonight. The Knicks depth at PG is something they didn’t have last season, and even Prigioni chipped in a little tonight in the first half.
-Rasheed Wallace needs to stop camping out on the wings. He was 0-5 from downtown tonight, and is beginning to slip away from the role he played through the first couple of games. I think Sheed can be a good contributor in the post (on both offense and defense) in a limited role. But this isn’t 2005 anymore, and can’t just go live out on the perimeter.
-A slow start didn’t hamper Raymond Felton, who poured in 21 points, most of which came in the second half. The 21 points did come on 23 shots which is way too many for him at the PG position, but you have to like the confidence and aggressiveness Felton has been playing with so far this season. He seems to play with an extra burst of energy in a Knick uniform.
-Pablo Prigioni gets at least one steal a game in the backcourt right after the opposing team in bounds (not a real stat).
-The Knicks got beat up on the glass tonight..by the Magic. The Knicks have an absurd amounts of size compared to the Magic, yet the Magic were able to out rebound the Knicks 42-31. They are going to need to improve that before their next games, and I would like to see a little bit more Marcus Camby to help account for that. I know Woodson is trying to slowly work him back into game shape, but he only played four minutes tonight. It’s hard to have a serious impact in just four minutes of action.
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