By John Denton
March 20, 2013

NEW YORK – Fatigued from almost a week on the road and short-handed because of illness, the Orlando Magic got picked apart and picked off Wednesday night by the hot-shooting New York Knicks.

When New York got the return of star forward Carmelo Anthony and it hit 15 3-pointers, the odds were heavily stacked for a Magic team that was forced to start 6-foot-8 forward Tobias Harris at center because of an illness to Nikola Vucevic. The results were predictable as the Knicks broke open a close game after halftime and rolled to a 106-94 defeat of Orlando at Madison Square Garden.

``I think (the Knicks) are the hardest team in the NBA to defend,’’ Magic forward Harris said. ``From ‘Melo’s ability to score at the (power forward). And then he has four shooters all around him, it’s hard to help out. Tonight, they made a lot of threes and they’re just such a tough matchup. That’s what makes them so good.’’

For the Magic (18-51), it was a disappointing end to a four-game, seven-day road trip in which they went winless. Orlando, which never led on Wednesday, has dropped five games in a row since whipping Philadelphia last week.

A night after scoring just 73 points in an ugly loss in Indiana, the Magic looked inspired in the first half when they scored 32 points in an efficient second quarter. But the Magic’s pick-and-roll defense led to way too many point-blank looks and open threes in the third quarter when the Knicks (40-26) pulled away and led by as much as 20 points. For the game, New York made 15 of 34 3-pointers.

Harris, a Long Island native, made seven of 10 shots and scored 14 points. Queens native Mo Harkless scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, but he had his hands full with New York’s Anthony, who poured in 21 points in 33 minutes. Kyle O’Qinn, who also hails from Queens, had one of his best games with career highs in points (12), rebounds (14) and assists (four).

``I told the assistant coaches that they are doing a heck of a job getting these young guys better,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. ``The time that they are spending with them on the floor, they’re building a comfort level with our guys.’’

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