Knicks Hold Off Magic, End Six-Game Skid
Orlando 97, New York 94
NEW YORK, Jan. 27 (Ticker) -- The Orlando Magic nearly came all the way back from a 25-point deficit, but Keyon Dooling took one too many steps at a most inopportune time.
Dooling was whistled for traveling with less than a second remaining as the Magic's comeback effort came up just short in a 97-94 setback to the New York Knicks.
Behind 16 points from Curry and 13 from Crawford, the Knicks took a 54-33 lead into halftime. They pushed their advantage to 25 points less than four minutes into the third quarter and still held a 20-point lead early in the fourth period before the Magic stormed back.
"I thought we mentally succumbed to fatigue in the beginning of the game because we played last night and that's what I told the team," said Orlando coach Brian Hill, whose team beat Philadelphia in overtime Thursday. "We were the more aggressive team in the second half and got ourselves back in the game. We just didn't have enough to pull it off."
"It's tough when you give yourself that big of a hole to come back from," Magic forward Pat Garrity said. "Anytime a team gets a big lead early, it can go two ways. It becomes even more of a blowout or it came down to the wire. It's just a matter of sticking with it."
Steve Francis scored 14 of his season-high 36 points in the final period for Orlando, pulling the visitors within 93-91 on a dunk with 17 seconds left.
"I'm just trying to win, whatever it takes," Francis said. "Tonight it was unfortunate that we had a bad first half and weren't able to recover.
"We fell too far behind in the first half. We really didn't have enough energy in the first half to really compete with those guys. They played a good game and they beat us."
Crawford responded with two free throws a second later, and after Francis threw away the inbounds pass, Stephon Marbury split a pair from the line with 12 seconds left for a five-point cushion.
However, Hedo Turkoglu nailed a 3-pointer to pull Orlando within 96-94 with 2.2 seconds to play. Frye only could split two free throws with 1.5 seconds remaining, giving the Magic a chance to tie.
"I think we sometimes don't understand how we get leads, and time and score," Knicks coach Larry Brown said. "We're just young and this is the process you've got to live with."
"Whenever we have a team down like that, we definitely have to put them away in the first five minutes in the third quarter," Marbury added.
Dooling was whistled for taking three steps in Orlando's backcourt with a tenth of a second left, ending any shot the Magic had of tying the game.
Dooling's turnover was one of 22 for Orlando, which was a playing its third game in four nights.
New York, which opened 2006 with a season-high six-game winning streak, won for the first time since Brown picked up his 1,000th NBA win two weeks ago against Atlanta.
"This is big for us," Curry said. "I can't imagine how we would have felt taking that train to Philly if we failed to hold the lead and lost the game."
In between victories, the Knicks endured an injury to Marbury, who was still showing the effects of a sprained left shoulder that kept him out for three games.
On Friday, New York played its best first half of the season before Orlando rallied. The Knicks had opened a 60-35 edge on Qyntel Woods' jumper early in the second half, but Orlando used a 19-7 spurt to make it a 13-point contest with 2:40 left in the third period.
After taking a 78-58 lead on a layup by Frye that opened the fourth quarter, New York's lead was cut to 83-79 on Francis' 3-pointer with 3:08 remaining. The Knicks rebuilt the lead to 91-83 with 1:13 left on a pair of foul shots by Curry.
"We have to be able to play well the whole game," Curry said. "We can't go up by 25 points and let them back in. To win is great, but we could have easily let it go the other way."
Turkoglu added 16 points and Dwight Howard collected 10 and 14 rebounds for his 30th double-double of the season as Orlando was denied its first six-game winning streak in nearly four years.