The Knicks broke out of a close game in the third quarter and won going away, 113-97 on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden. Orlando’s J.J. Redick led all scorers with 29 points, but only three Magic players scored in double figures while six Knicks finished in double figures, including a record-breaking performance by Carmelo Anthony.
In the first quarter, shooting was potent and defense was not. Orlando shot 62 per cent from the field and the Knicks shot 59 per cent. Orlando held a five-point lead at several points in the quarter and a brief eight-point lead before the game was tied at 31-31 at quarter’s end.
Orlando was 5 for 8 in three-point shots and the Knicks were 4 for 9 in the first period with J.J. Redick and Jameer Nelson leading the Magic in scoring with 14 and 12 points respectively. In his third game back from injury, Raymond Felton led the Knicks in first quarter scoring with 12 points.
The Eastern Conference rivals traded one-point leads for the opening two and a half minutes of the second quarter. The game was then tied at 39, 41, 43, and 45. Redick hit a 25-foot three to get the game off the tie-trail, but the quarter ended in another tie, 51-51. There were nine lead changes in the first two quarters of play.
In the first half, the Magic backcourt led the way in scoring; Nelson led all scorers with 19 points, and Redick contributed 17 points to the Magic total. Tyson Chandler led the Knicks with 13 points, Felton had 12, Carmelo Anthony had 9, and J.R. Smith chipped in 8.
The shooting pace slowed down in the second quarter, with Orlando settling in at a still healthy 52.5 per cent. The Knicks dropped down but kept an even healthier 55 per cent pace. The points in the paint were the story for the Knicks who led the battle by the basket, 30-16.
The Knicks went up by seven points on a layup by Anthony with 1:55 remaining in the period. Nelson and Redick continued to lead the scoring with 21 and 22 points respectively, but they continued to be the only Magic players in double figures. Chandler continued to lead the Knicks with 19 points, Anthony had 15, Felton had 12, and Amare Stoudemire had 10.
The third quarter ended with a 79-73 New York lead. Orlando’s field goal shooting slipped below 50 per cent by the end of three quarters while the Knicks shot over 55 per cent heading into the final quarter. New York continued to dominate in the paint, 46-26, and led in rebounds, 29-24.
The passing that characterized the Knicks earlier in the season was back. Felton and Stoudemire finally appeared to be in rhythm with the rest of their teammates. Stoudemire was 7 for 7 for 14 points in 21 minutes coming off the bench.
Pablo Prigioni had 11 points after making a three-pointer with 9:22 left in the game; he hit a personal season-high three three-pointers and left to applause at the 6:54 mark. Jason Kidd was rested this game with back pain and Prigioni made good use of his extra minutes on the floor, finishing with two rebounds and two assists along with his 11 points in 12 minutes of play.
Anthony scored his 20th point with a three-pointer that increased the Knicks lead to 94-80 with 6:09 left. Anthony broke a franchise record that had stood for 51 years with his 30th straight 20-point game. The Knicks next three baskets were also three pointers as the home team built a 16-point lead, 102-84.
Chris Copeland fouled Redick beyond the three point line and Felton was cited for a technical foul. Redick made all four foul shots. Ronnie Brewer, who was a starter until he fell into a shooting slump, came in for some garbage time and made one free throw in three attempts.
Redick led all scorers with 29 points, Nelson had 21, and Nikola Vucevic had 12. Chandler led the Knicks with 21 points, Anthony finished with 20, Felton had 15, Stoudemire scored 14, and Smith and Prigioni each had 11.
The Knicks improved to an Atlantic Division-leading 28-15, and 16-6 at home. The Magic suffered their seventh consecutive loss and 18 losses in their last 20 games.