See? Basketball can be enjoyable!
And then suddenly the boys in orange and blue went absolutely bananas. The starters rebounded, pushing the lead to 9 by the end of the first. Then the bench clamped down in the second quarter, and suddenly the rout was on. New York's typical third-quarter malaise briefly let Orlando back into the game, until Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis made the sweet, sweet music:
The Magic couldn't recover from a few timely Kristaps dunks, and that was that. Final score: Knicks 108, Magic 95.
As Melo's Bucket Hat Collection said, this was kinda fun. Very fun, in fact. Take a big lead, weather a run, step on the throat, skip some rope:
- This was one of those "I hope the Knicks win just so I can complain about the refs and not seem petty" kind of games. Sweet Jesus these refs were awful. Robin Lopez -- not exactly the most hot-tempered big man in the league -- was so incensed with the officiating by the third quarter that he drew a technical. A few minutes later, Langston Galloway was whistled fouling Aaron Gordon on the break. Only then the officials went to the replay monitor, called a flagrant on Jose Calderon, and decided to just let Gordon keep shooting free throws for a while.
"[unintelligible] foul on Jose Calderon, Aaron Gordon will shoot uhhhhh as many free throws as it takes to make this a close game"— Seth Rosenthal (@seth_rosenthal) February 27, 2016
Later they called some Magician for flopping on a Lance Thomas screen and gave our man a few free throws. I mean, I guess that's why Lance was shooting free throws, right? Maybe?
- This team -- particularly the starters -- cannot afford to be cavalier with the ball. They have no chance of stopping the other team should they get out on the break. The Magic couldn't hit jack, but they were helped out in the third when New York just kind of stopped holding onto the ball for a while.
- Think Knicks fans were excited to see Jerian Grant play?
Kurt Rambis brought young Grant into the game in the second quarter ... like, it was just something that he decided to do. The team was playing well, nobody was hurt, God didn't come down from the MSG rafters and command it.
And the youngster rewarded Rambis's faith with 5 points, 3 assists and 3 rebounds. He ran a few splendid pick-and-rolls with Kristaps that made Knicks fans weep tears of joy and anticipation.
- I had an epiphany tonight: Kristaps is a 7'3" Latvian Gary Payton. Not only did he stuff dunk contest legend Aaron Gordon, he played the passing lanes like an all-consuming leviathan. He was only credited with 2 steals, but it seemed like he was knocking Orlando passes out of bounds every other play. Kristaps also dropped 18 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and zero turnovers, if that kind of stuff floats your boat. How do you say "The Glove" in Latvian?
- Another rough shooting night for Carmelo Anthony: 7-22 for 19 points. On the other hand, there is this ...
One player in the NBA leads his team in scoring, rebounds and assists per game. How many would have guessed that it's Carmelo Anthony?— Peter Botte (@PeterBotte) February 27, 2016
- Derrick Williams responded to Wednesday's benching like a champ. The be-dredded one had Magic defenders on their heels all night on his way to 11 points, 7 of which came at the free-throw line. He and Lance Thomas shot 15 free throws between the two of them. It's a study in contrasts: D-Will gets to the line through raw athleticism, Lance through raw awkwardness.
- Quality rotations from Rambis tonight. No Sasha Vujacic, no Kevin Seraphin. The MSG crowd called for Jimmer Fredette in the second half, and were miffed when the coach turned back to Grant to finish the game. In a related note, those people in the crowd are a bunch of goobers.
Not much to complain about tonight, my friends. If only every game could be this nice. (Warning: very few games will be this nice.) The Knicks kicked off their three-game home stand with a W. Maybe they could even get another one someday soon