The Knicks had to fight more than expected to defeat the lowly Magic, but New York earned their second win in a row after defeating Orlando 102-98 at Amway Center on Tuesday.
It was the final matchup before the trade deadline for the New York Knicks (30-26) as they’ll next take a plane to Philly to face the Sixers for the last time this season, a mini-series your Knickerbockers currently lead 2-1 after Sunday’s victory over the Cheesesteaks.
After three middling offensive quarters in which New York could only score 66 points, the Knicks exploded for a monster 36-point final stanza that boosted them all the way up to the come-from-behind win.
“We started off in a hole and we fought out of the hole,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “I thought in the second half we were a lot better, and I thought in the fourth quarter we were very good.”
Orlando built itself a nice 12-point gap midway through the second after putting together an uncontested 10-0 run. Jalen Brunson was a bit mad. “We keep putting ourselves in this position of coming back from deficits,” he said.
Brunson was the main catalyst of New York’s comeback on Tuesday after dumping a game-high 25 points on Orlando’s collective forehead. Nine of those points came from long-range shots and those three treys marked a career-high for Brunson when it comes to 3PM in a single season. Never before had the point guard topped 94 three-point shots made in a campaign, but he’s now sitting at 95 and counting. Salute.
“On the flip side of that, we kept fighting. But we’ve got to start games better,” added JB.
After missing Sunday’s showdown, RJ Barrett returned to the starting lineup and scored 15 points shooting a poor 5-of-16 from the field. Julius Randle finished with 22 points and 14 rebounds to get his 35th double-double of the season. He’s already topped his 2021-22 figure (31) and he is just six dub-dubs short from matching a career-high on that front.
“I thought Julius and Jalen set the tone in the fourth quarter. Just the way we closed: big rebounds, physicality, hustle plays,” Thibodeau said. The last seven seconds of the game were a free-throw shitshow.
On the whole, the Knicks got outscored by the Magic 13-to-18 from the charity stripe but New York hit them all when it mattered most.
“We made our free throws, got rebounds, and didn’t turn the ball over.” Randle, spot-on.
Evan Fournier didn’t log a minute after his Sunday Extravaganza but Immanuel Quickley kept up his exploits with another 18-point outing to go with three boards, four dimes, and a theft on top of everything. Hard to see this man getting traded before Thursday—not that we’d like that to happen!
Quoth Thibs: “I love our team. We know we have a lot of young players that are going to get better as time goes on. I’ve been around a long time and for every 100 trades they talk about, one gets done. So it’s just noise.” Word, we hope.
As a quick, final note, Brunson connected with Jericho Sims with 39 seconds left on the clock for the young big boy to dunk the rock and make it all 96-93. The play sealed the deal for the Knicks and was telling of the news that would pop up overnight: Sims will take part in the All-Star Weekend festivities. Hurray!
Next game coming on Friday, tip-off at 7:00 PM EST at Wells Fargo Center in Philly. Don’t expect many changes in the lineup, because there won’t be a single trade between now and then—remember, this is the New York Knicks we’re talking about.