The last time the New York Knicks (23-17) faced off against the Orlando Magic on December 29th, the Floridians came away with the victory 117-108 handing the Knicks their 14th loss of the season. Less than 18 hours later, the Knicks sent RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley to Toronto in exchange for OG Anunoby and Precious Achiuwa.
Since the arrival of OG, the Knicks had gone 6-1 coming into the game last night. With the team at full strength, the Knicks have showcased themselves as one of the East’s elite in recent performances.
A Knicks matinee on Martin Luther King Day is as much tradition as having turkey on Thanksgiving. Since the league began the tradition of featuring the Knicks on MLK day in 1986, the Knicks have boasted an impressive 23-14 record on MLK day including a remarkable 9-1 record through the first decade of playing on MLK day. The historic day for our country also comes with a long list of historic moments in Knicks history including:
- In 1990, Trent Tucker’s three-pointer at the buzzer with 0.1 seconds remaining gave the Knicks a 109-106 victory over the Chicago Bulls, one that forever changed the NBA as the league went on to introduce the Trent Tucker rule.
- In 1993 after a 106-103 win over the Phoenix Suns, after Charles Barkley thought he was fouled on the last play after the game, Barkley leaped over the scorer’s table to chase after referee Jim Clark in the players' tunnel to argue his case.
- In 1994 Patrick Ewing scored his 15,000th career point.
While the list goes on, none was more famous or infamous than the Knicks-Spurs brawl in 2001 when Marcus Camby clocked Jeff Van Gundy with a closed-handed fist with a swing intended for Spurs forward Danny Ferry.
With all the history and victories the Knicks experienced over the years on MLK Day, neither was the case during yesterday’s matinee.
Coming in shorthanded missing Jalen Brunson for the second straight game due to a calf injury, the Knicks jumped out to an early 18-8 lead midway through the first quarter upon Miles McBride’s 25-foot three-pointer. However, Chuma Okeke responded immediately with a 25-foot three of his own, providing the Magic the momentum they needed. This kickstart allowed them to fight back while the Knicks looked stagnant to close out the first period 24-24.
Julius Randle started the second quarter on the bench nursing a tweaked ankle as he watched the Magic and Knicks trade baskets until the Knicks opened the scoring up mid-way through the quarter after a back door bounce pass from Ish Hartenstien to a baseline cutting Anunoby for a two-handed slam to cut the Magic lead to 41-38 and put some much-needed life into the Knicks and the MSG crowd.
Shortly thereafter a three-pointer by Anunoby, his 14th point of the game with 3:21 left in the first half gave the Knicks their first lead of the second quarter since the 11:01 mark of the quarter. Baskets continued to be traded between both teams as the Knicks closed out the half up 52-50.
Randle who started the second quarter hurt, started the second half with a corner three to help the Knicks jump out to a 55-50 lead. It was his first three of the game as he and the Knicks had been struggling all afternoon from the field. The Knicks had been shooting just 40% from the up until that shot.
After Randle’s first three, it began a barrage of Knicks’ threes. Two minutes later, Randle extended the lead to 58-54 with his second three of the game. Shortly after, DDV joined the three-point parade with a deep shot of his own from the top of the key, propelling the Knicks to their largest lead of 63-54 since the midway point of the first quarter.
Just 0:45 seconds later DDV drilled another three to give the Knicks a 66-54 lead which was followed by a fading 26-foot three-pointer from McBride less than a minute later, as the shot clock was expiring to propel the Knicks to a 69-59 lead.
With less than a minute remaining in the third Quentin Grimes added a corner three of his own to give the Knicks a 77-71 lead. After Malachi Flinn made 1-2 free throws for the Knicks and Joe Ingles made a driving layup with 0.3 seconds remaining in the quarter the Knicks finished the third up 78-73.
Following a tied first quarter at 24 points each, the Knicks displayed their dominance by outscoring the Magic in both the second and third quarters. With a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, they found themselves just 12 minutes away from securing retribution against Orlando for the December 29th defeat.
The Knicks were up by as much as 7 off of an Anunoby three with 7:38 minutes remaining, until Orlando began their run. Cole Anthony began the charge with two made field goals helping to cut the Knicks lead to 88-85 with 5:47 left.
With 5:35 remaining in the fourth quarter, DDV was fouled in the act of shooting by Orlando’s Jalen Suggs. He made 1 out of 2 free throws, giving the Knicks an 89-85 lead. However, two possessions later, Chuma Okeke hit a 22-foot three-pointer assisted by Anthony, narrowing the Knicks’ lead to just one point at 89-88. This marked the last time the Knicks held a one-point lead, as the score remained 89-88 until Cole Anthony tipped in a missed three-pointer by Suggs, putting the Magic ahead 90-89 with 3:42 left.
The Magic extended their lead further when Paolo Banchero sealed the victory with a crucial play, giving them a five-point lead with 1:37 remaining in the fourth quarter. From that point on, the Magic maintained control, securing a 98-94 victory over the Knicks.
Banchero emerged as the leading scorer for the Magic, contributing 20 points on 9-19 shooting. Meanwhile, McBride led the Knicks with an equally impressive 20 points, making 8 out of 17 field goal attempts, which included four three-pointers. Anunoby added in 17 of his own. Randle and DDV each score 15 a piece.
Next up, the Knicks welcome the Houston Rockets into the Garden on Wednesday night.