By John Denton
January 5, 2013
ORLANDO – For 42 minutes of Saturday’s back-and-forth game before a sold-out Amway Center crowd, the Orlando Magic were every bit the equals of the surging New York Knicks and even led by eight points going into the final quarter.
But then, as has been the case so often of late for the slumping Magic, the other team’s superstar player – Carmelo Anthony, in this instance – proved to be the difference-maker in crunch time.
When the Magic single-covered Anthony he torched them for a season-high 40 points and when they doubled, he passed to others for back-breaking 3-pointers with six assists. It was a scenario that was eerily similar to games earlier this week when Miami’s LeBron James and Chicago’s Carlos Boozer picked apart the Magic’s defense with games on the line.
There were plenty of positives for the Magic to take out of Saturday night’s 114-106 loss to Anthony and the Knicks, but in the end they were simply left with an eighth straight loss. It’s the Magic’s longest skid since 2005-06 when they lost that same number of games.
``He’s probably the best scorer in the world right now,’’ Magic forward Josh McRoberts said of Anthony. ``It’s NBA basketball, guys are good in this league and games are going to be close. But at the end, teams are going to go to their best player and we have to be prepared for that.’’
The Magic have yet to win since losing Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis eight games ago to a dislocated left shoulder. But Orlando has been in several of the games down to the wire, losing six of the eight games by eight points or less. While there is frustration with that, there are also positives with which the team can build off of. It’s just that Magic guard J.J. Redick didn’t want to contemplate any of them in the minutes after Satruday’s latest loss.
``Losing is frustrating,’’ Redick said with a big sigh. ``Losing close against good teams is frustrating. So yeah, it’s all frustrating.’’
Jameer Nelson and Arron Afflalo each scored 29 points for the Magic. Nelson hit five 3-pointers and his eight assists pulled him to within one of tying Scott Skiles’ franchise record for assists (2,776). Afflalo injured his hip in the first quarter, but fought through the pain to score 20 of his 29 points after the break.
Afflalo said the most frustrating part of the losing streak is that the Magic have been in every game, but haven’t been able to close out games because of the exploits from the likes of Anthony, James and Boozer.
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