Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks in scoring for the 5th consecutive game with 25 points on 11-22 shooting and eight rebounds.
J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton each scored 21 points, but Smith was the catalyst in the comeback as he scored 12 points on 5-5 shooting in the 3rd quarter.
The Knicks only allowed 36 2nd half points, 13 in the fourth quarter continuing a stretch where teams have not scored more than 40 points in the 2nd half against the Knicks all season.
Tonight was the first time all season the Knicks have trailed in the 4th quarter.
Orlando was led in scoring by J.J. Reddick with 18 points as seven Magic players finished in double digits.
The last two times the Knicks started 5-0 was the 1969-1970 championship year and 1993-1994 season. Also, all five wins has been by 10 points or more, one of only three teams in NBA history to start a season that way.
Don’t let the final score fool you, because if not for a great defensive fourth quarter by the Knicks, they could have easily lost to a team that should not even been within 10 points of the Knicks, let alone have a shot to win the game in the fourth.
Tommy Dee earlier wrote that we needed some energy from J.R. Smith and boy did the Knicks get some serious energy. Early in the 3rd, Ronnie Brewer was ineffective and in came J.R. Smith to save the Knicks from a bad loss to the Magic. His 5-5, 12 point quarter helped the Knicks take a one point lead into the 4th before they finally pulled away. Smith scored 20+ off the bench for the 3rd time this season, clearly in the early running for 6th man of the year.
Jason Kidd didn’t have the best game tonight, much like most the of Knicks, but his three pointer that made it 82-80 Knicks in the fourth was a huge shot and was part of an 18-4 run to put the Magic away for good.
Raymond Felton took the most shots on the team, which in the normal course of the season should never happen, ever. But with the way the Magic defended the pick and roll, going under screens time and time again, he was open for those shots and he helped keep the Knicks in the game with his highest scoring output of the season.
Carmelo Anthony had an interesting game, he scored 25 points and had eight boards to lead the Knicks in both categories, but was a little lackadaisical on defense at times and seemed to not get any calls from the referees which led to him getting a technical. This may have been the first time “Bad Melo” was around for an extended period of time, but give Mike Woodson credit for getting on him throughout the game about his play and Melo to his credit did play better as the game came to an end.
The second half defense once again was brilliant. Whatever Mike Woodson said at halftime, you hope someone recorded it so he can sell it to every coach in the world. They forced the Magic into a whole bunch of turnovers and into more jump shots while keeping the back door play in check after being dominated by it in the first half.
Rebounding tonight was not exactly good. Tyson Chandler only had 6 rebounds, which is Brook Lopez type production on the glass, which is nothing to be proud of. With Tim Duncan and Zach Randolph coming up the next two games, the Knicks are going to have to work even harder to get rebounds.
The Magic played a tough, gutty kind of game and that’s without guys like Jameer Nelson, Al Harrington and Hedo Turkoglu. With a little luck and some smart front office moves, they wont be a bad team for long. This team has insane luck when it comes to the Draft lottery, the same luck the Spurs and Thunder got in the past to rebuild quickly.
At the end of the day, the Knicks played for three quarters like they were already half way to San Antonio but thanks to J.R. Smith and a lock down defense in the fourth quarter, the Knicks are now 5-0 and ugly wins are always better than ugly losses.
Coming up next, the Knicks travel to the Lone Star State to take on the San Antonio Spurs at the AT&T Center this Thursday night at 8:30 PM. The game will be on MSG.