The Knicks, fueled by a strong third quarter, took care of business in Orlando against a young Magic team without Julius Randle.
The New York Knicks (35-44) handily defeated the Orlando Magic (20-59) by a final score of 118-88. Immanuel Quickley was the second youngest Knick to register a triple-double, and the Knicks forced 11 turnovers on Orlando to leave Florida with a win.
The Knicks were coming off another matinee game loss to the Cavaliers, which was their first game since head coach Tom Thibodeau had announced that Julius Randle would likely be out for the rest of the regular season.
The first quarter began with a much-needed three-pointer from RJ Barrett, who was coming off a less-than-stellar shooting game in the Knicks’ loss to the Cavs on Saturday. After a quick timeout from Orlando, Alec Burks was fouled shooting a three, marking an inauspicious start defensively for the Magic. Both teams were a little discombobulated to start, though, with neither squad finding a good rhythm until later in the period. When the Knicks found theirs, it came in the form of defensive pressure in the paint from Mitchell Robinson and unselfish ball movement leading to decent shots. Robinson left the quarter early with an apparent mouth injury after being hit in the face by former Knick Ignas Brazdeikis, which gave rookie Jericho Sims early minutes. But sharpshooting, led by a team-high eight points from Obi Toppin, helped New York maintain a nine-point lead over Orlando through one.
The second began with an alley-oop to Robinson from Barrett. That start did not translate over into the next few minutes of play for the Knicks, unfortunately, with their defense allowing the Magic to get back into the game quickly. Cold shooting for both teams helped New York hold onto their lead until fouls on Orlando helped the Magic close the gap. Orlando’s Moe Wagner looked particularly aggressive with his scoring, and he was picking New York’s defense apart from both beyond the arc and in the paint. Once the Magic’s defense started to clamp down on the Knicks, they finally climbed over the hump and took the lead. It took aggressive drives to the paint and cleaner passing from New York to finally break out of a shooting slump from earlier in the quarter and retake the lead. The Knicks were up 10 at the half, with Barrett having a nice bounce-back game with 15 points and four assists to lead the team.
The third began with continued poor shooting for Orlando, and New York being able to take advantage. Protection of the ball did not seem to be a priority for either team, with Orlando recording eight turnovers and New York recording nine by the end of the quarter. The Knicks were leaving several Magic players open from three-point range, and when they finally hit one a timeout was called by Coach Thibodeau before things got out of hand.
Out of the timeout, the Knicks started to pour it on. Barrett and Burks were picking apart the Magic’s defense, and Robinson continued to dominate with nine rebounds and five blocks through three. Immanuel Quickley checked in with just under half of the quarter remaining, and he helped to push the pace even more for the Knicks as they pulled even further away from the Magic with the period winding down. Toppin also tied his career-high in scoring from yesterday’s afternoon game with 20 points in the third and a chance to break that record in the fourth. With three quarters down, the Knicks were up by 32.
The fourth started off with an emphatic put-back dunk from Sims off a Quentin Grimes missed three-pointer. “Deuce” McBride followed that up with a made three-pointer, extending their lead to 35 with just over 10 minutes left in regulation. It was becoming clear that the game had gotten out of hand for Orlando. Even with the Magic chipping away at the lead and the Knicks going cold offensively, New York was still up by double digits with just over six minutes left in the fourth. The Knicks’ play got sloppy towards the end of the fourth, which threatened to damper what was otherwise a rout of Orlando on their home court. But, thanks to some key passes from New York to an open Robinson under the hoop and excellent play down the stretch from Quickley, they were able to put the finishing touches on a well-earned victory against the Magic.
RJ Barrett had 27 points, five rebounds, six assists, and a steal on the night and led all the Knicks in scoring. Obi Toppin in his second start in a row recorded 20 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and a block. Alec Burks had a quietly good performance with 19 points, seven rebounds, six assists, and a steal. Mitchell Robinson was also impressive with 12 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks, and three steals. Evan Fournier was almost completely silent offensively with two points, but he had two rebounds, an assist, and a steal.
Immanuel Quickley was the star of the Knicks’ bench with 20 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists along with two steals. McBride had eight points in 11 minutes of action. Sims had four points, five rebounds, a steal, and a block. Taj Gibson also had four points along with four rebounds and an assist. Quentin Grimes, back from four missed games, had two points, four rebounds, and two assists.
New York will now go up against the Brooklyn Nets at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, as Brooklyn will be fighting for better play-in, or playoff, standing with the regular season winding down.