Couldn’t Get It Done at the End. Orlando 98 NY 94

Isaiah Hartenstein vs Orlando. Photo courtesy NY Knicks

The Knicks had an 11-pt lead late in the 3rd quarter, and a 88-81 lead with 7 minutes left in the 4th, but couldn’t close the game out — missing key shots and free throws, and allowing the Magic to grab key offensive rebounds in the 98-94 loss at Madison Square Garden on a Monday Martin Luther King day afternoon.

NY was without Jalen Brunson and they missed him. Miles McBride played a very good game in his absence, but NY was missing Brunson’s elite end-of-game shot making.

Paolo Banchero, Orlando’s superstar, made several big buckets down the stretch. Julius Randle hit a big bucket late and got to the line, but for the most part struggled against the extremely physical Orlando defense, going 5-18 for 15 points.

“I think we got good shots and just missed them,” said OG Anunoby afterwards. “The other team made shots.”
It’s more difficult,” said Josh Hart afterwards about trying to close the game out without Brunson. “You’re missing 25 a game. Someone who can control the pace of the game. Obviously, that’s difficult to replace.”

NY falls to 23-17; Orlando improves to 22-18.

1. Orlando Plays Physical Brand of Ball

The Orlando Magic, coached by Jamahl Mosley, play a physical brand of basketball — that the Knicks experienced two weeks ago in the first meeting this season between the teams, a game Orlando won, 117-108.

In that game, Moritz and Franz Wagner both played important roles — but they were both out injured for this game. Instead, Orlando got rugged interior play from 6’10 Euro Goga Bitadze who started at center, 6’7 Chuma Okeke who started at power forward (15 pts on 5-7 shooting, 4-5 from 3), 6’10 Wendell Carter Jr (17 pts on 7-11 shooting), and 6’10 Jonathan Isaac.

Both Markelle Fultz (6 pts and a +11 in 23 minutes) and Cole Anthony (15 pts and a +18 in 26 minutes) come off the bench for Orlando supporting the 6’8 Caleb Houstan who starts at the point and gives Orlando Defense at that position. Jalen Suggs, another defense-first player, is their 6’5 shooting guard.

2. Knicks Up by 11 Late in 3rd

The Knicks played better against Orlando than the first time — when NY found themselves 20 points behind and had to rally late in the 4th but too little too late.

This time NY defended well and controlled the game — into the 3rd. Deuce McBride led the team well at the point and played tough Defense. McBride had a team-high 20 points on 8-17 shooting (4-10 from 3), although oddly only had 1 assist.

Malachi Flynn played 12 minutes at the backup point and played well but only shot 0-4 (all from 3).

OG Anunoby played well — 17 pts on 5-11 shooting (3-4 from 3, 4-4 in free throws).

Isaiah Hartenstein (12 rebounds, 7 pts, 3 assists) was playing his tough brand of basketball inside.

When DiVincenzo hit a jumper with 5:17 left in the 3rd, NY had a 10-point lead, at 71-61.

When Julius Randle hit a drive a minute later, NY was up 73-63, and when Randle hit 1 of 2 free throws next time down NY was up 11 at 74-63 with 4 minutes left in the 3rd. It looked like NY was going to win.

3. Knicks Don’t Get It Done Down Stretch

But Orlando closed the 3rd well on a couple of Markelle Fultz drives a Cole Anthony drive and free throws, and a Joe Ingles dunk and were down 5 entering the 4th.

NY still seemed in control when Anunoby hit a 3 with 7:38 left in the game, giving NY an 88-81 lead.

But down the stretch:

  • Cole Anthony hit consecutive jumpers and Okeke hit a jumper off an Anthony assist and Orlando pulled to within 89-88.

It didn’t help the Knicks that the refs let both teams play down the stretch, holding the whistle. Knick players looked like they were fouled on several missed shots — but NY was getting away with physicality down the other end as well.

  • McBride missed a 3 — Hartenstein grabbed an offensive rebound but missed inside — although it looked like he was fouled.
  • Suggs missed a 3 but Cole Anthony tipped in the offensive rebound and Orlando had the lead at 90-89.
  • McBride drove and looked like he was fouled but no call.

Randle Missed 2 Free Throws

  • With 2:37 left Randle was fouled inside but missed both free throws — and NY was still down 90-89.

Orlando with 2 Offensive Rebounds and a Key Score

  • With 2:22 left, Banchero missed a floater, but Anthony got the offensive rebound, Fultz missed a drive, but got his own rebound and fed Banchero for a jumper that he made and Orlando was up 92-89.
  • Anunoby missed an open 3 from the corner off a Randle drive and then down the other end Banchero hit a pullup and Orlando was up 94-89 with 1:37 left.
  • McBride hit a drive — goaltending on Bitadze — Orlando challenged but lost the challenge — pulling NY back within 4.

DiVincenzo with a Missed Free Throw

  • DiVincenzo only made 1 of 2 free throws with a minute left to make it 95-92 Orlando,
  • A Wendell Carter Jr jumper with 44 seconds left pretty much iced it — Orlando 97 NY 92.

The Boxscore


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