By Chris Henderson
7:00 PM ET | Amway Center
TV: MSG Network
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM
1. The Knicks and Magic have squared off twice this season, with the Magic coming out victorious in both outings. In their most recent meeting on December 3, Enes Kanter led New York with 18 points and 16 rebounds, while Courtney Lee added 19 points and five boards. Frank Ntilikina scored nine points off the bench. Tonight will mark the third of four games between the two teams this season and the Magic will visit the Garden for the final match-up in April.
2. The Magic come into the game on a three-game losing streak and are 18-39 overall. In the team’s final game before the All-Star break, the Magic fell to the Charlotte Hornets 104-102. The Magic are expecting leading scorer Aaron Gordon (18.4 PPG) and leading rebounder Nikola Vucevic (9.3 RPG) to return from injuries for tonight’s game.
3. Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek stated at practice Wednesday that the team’s younger players, such as Ntilikina, Emmanuel Mudiay, and Trey Burke, will get more playing time throughout the rest of the season. “We have some young guys that are hungry, and if they approach games like they did practice today, we’ll be okay,” Hornacek explained.
4. In the Knicks’ final game prior to the All-Star break, Tim Hardaway Jr. led the team by scoring 32 first half points. He finished with 37 points, just one point short of his career-high, shooting 14-of-24 overall from the field and 6-of-9 from downtown. Hardaway Jr. looks to build upon his 37-point outing tonight against Orlando.
5. Kanter continued to fill the stat sheet the last time the Knicks took the floor with a 24-point, 14-rebound and five-assist performance. It was Kanter’s 28th double-double of the season, tying him with the Sixers’ Joel Embiid for third most double-doubles in the NBA. He is also averaging 10.7 rebounds per game, which is tied with the Pelicans’ Anthony Davis for eighth best in the NBA.