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Knicks 115, Magic 102: “Very confident when Brunson has the ball in his hands”

The Knicks defeat the Magic to improve to 2-1 on the young season despite a strong effort from a talented Orlando squad.

NBA: Orlando Magic at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

That’s two wins in the row for the New York Knicks after they took care of the Orlando Magic on Monday night at Madison Square Garden. New York won 115-102 despite a resilient Magic effort throughout the majority of the evening.

As soon as the ball was the tipped, it was apparent that the Knicks were up for the game. However, the story of the night was Orlando’s ability to fight back every time the Knicks tried to pull away.

The Knicks had four players in double figures led by 25 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and only two turnovers from Julius Randle. You can tell the MSG crowd is starting to warm back to him after a rough relationship a year ago. Sometimes taking a break in a relationship can be the best medicine. You can see Randle used the offseason to improve his game and demeanor on the court.

Jalen Brunson had 21 points, six assists and two steals despite dealing foul trouble at different points of the first and second half. Meanwhile, RJ Barrett had 20 points and six rebounds despite a slow start shooting the basketball.

Obi Toppin brought a spark off the bench along with a host of highlight reel plays that we will get to in a second. On top of that, there was great work from Cam Reddish and Isaiah Hartenstein to fill in the gaps as well. The trio combined for 24 points off the bench.

Ball movement in particular was stellar from the Knicks in this game as New York finished with 24 assists on 43 made field goals. Orlando had just 14 assists in the defeat. Brunson’s addition had a lot to do with that. As P&T’er herbet pollack noted, it’s easy to feel confident when Brunson has the ball in his hands. New York is also playing quicker when they get the ball and have been working on getting across the timeline faster so they can operate and get better looks. It certainly played a role throughout this game.

Defensively, Mitchell Robinson led the way with some great hustle plays, blocks and gritty moments underneath the basket that are needed to hold off a tricky team like the Magic.

Speaking of Orlando, who dropped to 0-4 on the year, they were rather impressive. Everyone has gotten a glimpse of what No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero is capable of during the first few games of his NBA career, and he showed it again on Monday. He led Magic with 21 points. However, he did fade a bit in the second half. Randle’s defense had something to do with that.

In addition, there was other young bucks for Orlando who really showed their stuff at the Garden. Cole Anthony had 14 points and made some really tough shots along the way. Wendell Carter Jr. had 17 points and 11 rebounds while continuing to improve his range from behind the arc. Bol Bol really shined with 19 points off the bench and reminded everyone why they were “ooing” and “ahhing” at his pro prospects when the 7’2” talent was playing for Oregon in college. Bol stunned the Garden with some tremendous agility, shot making and defensive work albeit in vain when looking at the final score.

Orlando is not your typical 0-4 team. They’ve played all the teams on their schedule tough so far and nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat at the Mecca. In the end, the Knicks kept the rabbit from the leaving the hat and have begun their first winning streak of the season.

To celebrate, here are the top five plays of the night!

We begin with the first of three Toppin highlight reel dunks. Each one better than the last.

After Toppin climbs the skyscrapers, he soars through the trees with the help of Barrett for the next one.

Finally, Toppin welcomes the No. 1 overall pick to the league.

The top two plays of the night were just tremendous team moments. First off, Robinson, Brunson and Randle combine on a lovely defense to offense transition sequence.

And the top play is Toppin’s no-look dish to Barrett. C’mon, how sweet was this one! We got two looks at it as well.

Loved every second of it!

The Knicks will look to make it three in a row on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. when the Charlotte Hornets come to the Garden. We will have all of the coverage from pregame to postgame as always. Talk to you then!