Postgame Report: Magic 105, Knicks 100

By Josh Cohen
Dec. 3, 2017

NEW YORK – With his team trailing 9-8 less than three minutes into the game and then again down 61-60 early in the third quarter, Orlando Magic Head Coach Frank Vogel called timeouts. In most instances, stoppages like these wouldn’t be that significant.

Clearly unhappy with his team’s defensive effort and toughness in those early moments of the first and third quarters, Vogel seemed to awaken his club during these pep talks and helped them regain their composure.

“Let’s just say I threatened them, simplest way to put it,” Vogel said with a chuckle when asked what he told his team during that first timeout. “First warning is a timeout, second warning is a sub and they turned it around.”

The Magic pulled out a 105-100 victory over the Kristaps Porzingis-less New York Knicks on Sunday at Madison Square Garden. While it certainly wasn’t always pretty, it was the type of gritty win that can perhaps spark Orlando’s defense moving forward.

Nikola Vucevic carried the Magic on the other end with a game-high 34 points – 12 in the decisive fourth quarter – and Evan Fournier sank four crucial free throws in the final 25 seconds to seal Orlando’s second win in its last three games.

Vucevic, who also scored 34 points at MSG in 2015, shot 13-of-19 from the field, grabbed 12 rebounds, dished out three assists and had two blocks. He also passed Darrell Armstrong for ninth on the Magic’s all-time scoring list.

“I was just being aggressive whenever I got a good look at the basket,” he said. “We made some big plays when we needed them. It wasn’t perfect but we got it done.”

“It’s just fun to play here,” he added about having another sensational performance at this arena.

Shortly after that early timeout by Vogel, the Magic went on a 21-3 run and built a 17-point advantage. The Knicks responded, however, and eventually had the lead on a few occasions during the third quarter.

Orlando held New York to just 5-of-15 shooting from 3-point distance and 10 total free throw attempts.

Fournier finished with 20 points, Elfrid Payton recorded 15 points, six rebounds and five dimes and Gordon, stifled a bit after erupting for 40 and 29 points, respectively, in his last two games, scored 10.

“I feel like the level of play is returning to what it was in the beginning of the season,” Gordon says. “Guys are attacking more ruthlessly and just out there having fun and playing their game.”

Michael Beasley scored 21 points and Enes Kanter posted 18 points and 16 rebounds for the Knicks, who in addition to Porzingis (ankle and illness) were without Tim Hardaway Jr. (left leg).