Postgame Report: Magic vs. Knicks (2/21/14)
By John Denton
Feb. 21, 2014
ORLANDO – The Orlando Magic have had some of the most thrilling, pulse-pounding finishes in the NBA this season, playing into triple overtime against Chicago, double overtime in Philadelphia and again Friday versus New York and also into OT two other times.
The difference on Friday, however, was that the Magic finally figured out a way to win one of those close overtime games. And they did so by repeatedly putting the ball in the hands of electrifying rookie Victor Oladipo and letting him carve apart the Knicks.
Oladipo scored 25 of his 30 points in the second half and two overtime periods, set a career high in assists with 14 and capped the night with a jaw-dropping dunk in traffic as the Magic edged the Knicks and Carmelo Anthony 129-121 in two OTs.
``He was special and it was fun to be a part of,’’ Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said of his rookie. ``He played a lot of the first (quarter) and a little of the second and I didn’t put him back in before the half. I was hoping he would have a lot of juice for us in the second half. Boy, did he have a lot of juice.’’
A raucous Amway Center crowd of 16,498 saw the Magic (17-40) win an overtime game for the first time this season in five tries. They also won at the Amway Center for a sixth time in the past seven home games.
``This was good for us, especially coming off those two bad road losses,’’ said center Kyle O’Quinn, who came off the bench and buried an 18-foot jumper with 56 seconds left to keep Orlando ahead. ``We needed a win and to do it in overtime just shows that if you play consistent and play hard to the end, we will win.’’
Oladipo, who was back in the starting lineup following the contractual buy out of Glen ``Big Baby’’ Davis earlier in the day, had 25 points and 10 assists after halftime. He had the game-sealing dunk with 30 seconds to play and two acrobatic three-point plays in the second OT to carry Orlando.
``I’ve been in so many situations and had a lot of ups and downs and every game I can control one thing – that’s what I bring to the game with my energy on both ends of the floor,’’ Oladipo said. ``I’m just playing hard no matter what. I’m just trying to do that every game.’’
The Magic needed every bit of it to survive the 44 points, 11 rebounds and six 3-pointers pumped in by New York superstar forward Carmelo Anthony. Anthony had just six points in the fourth quarter and the first overtime before heating up again in the second OT with two long threes and two free throws.
But as good as Anthony was, he got overshadowed on this night by Orlando’s prized No. 2 pick from last June’s NBA Draft. Even though Oladipo missed the second triple-double of his career by one rebound, he took the humble, understated approach after the game.
``There’s still so much room for improvement and I can get so much better,’’ he said. ``I really feel like I haven’t even scratched the surface of how good I can be. I honestly believe that.’’
The Magic lost standout guard Arron Afflalo with 2:23 left in the second OT when he accidentally stepped on Raymond Felton’s foot and rolled his right ankle. Afflalo, who topped the 30-point plateau for the fifth time this season with 32 points, had just set up an Oladipo dunk when he hurt his ankle. Afflalo stayed down on the floor for several minutes and eventually hobbled to the Magic locker room.
Tobias Harris, who went at Anthony several times during the game, added 22 points and eight rebounds. Nikola Vucevic finished with 14 points and 15 rebounds, but he missed shots at the end of regulation and the first overtime that could have won the game.
There was a bit of the bizarre with 1:07 to play in the first OT and the game tied. Strangely, Tyson Chandler’s head prevented the Knicks from taking the lead. Chandler caught a lob from Felton and as he dunked, the ball hit off his head and went back up through the rim. As Chandler pulled the rim down, the ball sprung high into the air. Referees reviewed the play and wiped out the basket because of Chandler’s basket interference.
Orlando outscored New York (21-34) 16-8 in the second OT. Oladipo had eight points for the Magic in the final period by converting a layup after cutting backdoor, hanging in the air for another layup, dunking with 30 seconds to play and converting two free throws.
``He got what he wanted on both ends of the floor, whether it was defensively getting into a guy and using his strength or on the offensive end,’’ said Vaughn, whose team rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter. ``We didn’t call a lot of timeouts. There were a lot of places where we let him go and it was on his decision-making.’’