By John Denton
March 20, 2013
Beno Udrih had 13 points and eight assists in 24 minutes, bettering the production offered up by starting point guard Jameer Nelson (six points and one assist in 24 minutes). Arron Afflalo, who was forced to start at small forward, suffered through a dismal one-of-nine shooting night and scored just four points in 29 minutes.
``It happens in the NBA with 82 games and it’s not going to go in for you every game,’’ Vaughn said referring to the struggles from Afflalo and Nelson. ``But it was great to see us have 54 points from the bench. Guys came in and tried to step in and fill in the roles. Some good things came from that game.’’
Orlando’s group of young reserves fought hard to the very end, allowing the Magic to get as close as nine points in the final minutes of the game.
The Knicks made 15 3-pointers and missed just 11 of their first 24 attempts. J.R. Smith scored 22 points off the New York bench, while aging center Kenyon Martin scored 11 points and grabbed three rebounds.
``There’s not a single person in the league who can guard (Anthony) one-on-one, so you have to do different things to try to get him out of his rhythm,’’ Nelson said. ``But I thought he did a great job of being patient. He passed (to open shooters) when the double teams came.’’
The Magic are back at the Amway Center on Friday to host the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were 117-104 winners against Orlando last Friday. In that game, the Magic fell behind by as much as 27 points before charging back to within three points of the lead. However, OKC was able to hold on down the stretch for the victory.
Wednesday’s result allowed New York to sweep the season series of four games. Including the four losses to the Brooklyn Nets this season, the Magic went zero-for New York this season.
The Magic were without Vucevic, who was the only Orlando player to appear in the first 68 games, because of an illness. Vucevic played 31 minutes on Tuesday in Indiana, but he began feeling badly on Wednesday afternoon. He went out to the court 90 minutes before the game for shooting practice, but he quickly returned to the locker room because of ill feelings.
Within five points of the Knicks after an impressive second quarter, the short-handed Magic let the game slip away from them in the third quarter when its defense fell apart. New York got free for five 3-pointers in the third period, including one from Anthony after the Magic had scored five straight points. The Knicks made 13 of their first 24 3-pointers in the game’s first three quarters.
Unlike a night earlier when they started poorly and let it lead to a dismal first half, Orlando shook itself out of an early shooting funk and got within 51-46 of the Knicks by halftime.
The Magic were forced to start a smallish lineup that included Harris at center, Harkless at power forward, Afflalo at small forward and reserve E’Twaun Moore at shooting guard. Afflalo, who has struggled at times while being forced to play small forward, missed all three of his shots early on and didn’t score in the first half.
The Knicks led by as much as 15 points early on behind a strong start from Anthony, who was back in the starting lineup after missing six of the past eight games with knee soreness. But the Magic had a 31-point second quarter to charge back within striking distance of the Knicks.
Playing in place of the injured Vucevic, O’Quinn came off the bench and gave the Magic a nice lift in the first half with his relentless energy. He scored eight points, grabbed nine rebounds and handed out three assists in the first three minutes.
``Things were going so fast for Kyle (early in the season) because during the course of a game we might have two different coverages to understand,’’ Vaughn said. ``He had to learn to process that and things had to slow down for him. He’s anticipating things better and now you see his all-out pursuit of the basketball on both ends of the floor. He’ll continue to get better.’’
Udrih, who was acquired in late February in the trade with Milwaukee, was offensively aggressive and seeking out shots early in the game for a Magic team that needed another scorer. Udrih played the entire second quarter, simultaneously giving Nelson rest while also scoring eight points and handing out four assists.
``Our guys were kind of out of position without (Vucevic) and we missed him,’’ Nelson said. ``It wasn’t weird (not playing in the second or fourth quarters). It’s not my decision to play or not play guys. That’s coach’s decision, so I was just out there cheering my teammates on.’’
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