5 Things to Know: Knicks Return to MSG, Host Magic in Eastern Conference Tilt
7:30 PM EST | Madison Square Garden
TV: MSG Network
Radio: ESPN NY 98.7 FM
5 Things To Know:
1. Facing serious adversity on Saturday night, the Knicks battled in Houston but fell in a 129-122 defeat to the Rockets. Houston’s high-powered attack was too much for a depleted New York team without Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle O’Quinn, and Courtney Lee. Additionally, Carmelo Anthony was forced to miss the second half due to a sore knee. Brandon Jennings started in place of Lee and scored a season-high 32 points to go along with seven assists. On the other side of the floor, James Harden shined in a career performance by scoring 53 points, dishing out 17 dimes, and grabbing 16 rebounds to become the first player in NBA history to post this startling stat line. The Knicks dropped to 16-17 on the season and are now in 9th place in the East following four straight losses.
2. Anthony did not feel his knee soreness was a major cause for concern. New York’s small forward said on Saturday that he expects to return to the lineup on Monday night. Porzingis was held out of Saturday’s game with a sore Achilles that was aggravated in the contest in New Orleans. Lee missed all three of New York’s road games this past week while dealing with a sore right wrist. Despite some optimism throughout the three-game trip, Lee was unable to suit up on Saturday. O’Quinn was sidelined with flu-like symptoms on Saturday in Houston. Head coach Jeff Hornacek will provide an update on the status for these players during his pregame media availability at 5:45 PM tonight.
3. In the first matchup of the season between the two teams, Derrick Rose led the way with 19 points while six Knicks registered double figures in points to top the Magic 106-95 on December 22. New York hit 45 percent from the arc, outrebounded Orlando 52-41, and tallied 26 assists in the home win.
4. On New Year’s night, the Magic suffered a 117-104 loss to the Pacers in the first game of a road back-to-back. Nikola Vucevic scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in 30 minutes off the bench and Serge Ibaka posted 17 points in the defeat. Orlando has now lost two straight games after earning two consecutive victories over the Lakers and Grizzlies. At 15-20, the Magic sit in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings while holding an 8-9 mark on the road.
5. Evan Fournier, the Magic’s leading scorer, has missed the last four games with a heel injury. His status is unclear for Monday’s matchup against the Knicks at MSG. Fournier is averaging 17.8 points per game this season and his absence has forced Jodie Meeks into starting shooting guard duties next to D.J. Augustin in the backcourt. With that said, head coach Frank Vogel brings Elfrid Payton off the bench at point guard for significant minutes as seen in Sunday’s game where he logged 29 minutes of court time.