Knicks Give a Push, Magic Shove Back • Latino Sports


Knicks Give a Push, Magic Shove Back



NEW YORK – Trailing by as many as 17 points, the New York Knicks did their usual skit, roaring back in the fourth quarter against an elite squad, only to find themselves out of time and with yet another unsatisfactory finish, falling 114-109 against the visiting Orlando Magic. 

Wednesday night’s game showcased the class and standard of the “oh so coveted double-double”. While the Knicks David Lee continues to chase Walt Bellamy’s 1966 franchise record of 35 straight games with a double-double (he now has 21, tying him with Jerry Lucas), Orlando All-Star Dwight Howard continues to delight crowds with his electrifying dunks, and ball smacking blocks (he had four for the game, all in the first quarter), but the game belonged to Hedo “no one does the voodoo like he do” Turkoglu, who saturated the Knicks with his long range expertise to stun the comeback kids.

With 33 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field including 3-of-5 from downtown, Turkoglu took the scoring load off Howard and effectively dissipated the Nate Robinson experience.

Half-showman, half-playmaker extraordinaire, Nate Robinson did what he does best, and saved his best for the fourth quarter where he scored 12 points by gliding down the court and safely evading the presence of Howard, and his shot swatting hands.

Robinson had 32 points on the evening, many of them off of pull up jumpers and layups in which he would move one way while placing the ball on the opposite end of the glass. For the sixth time this season Robinson surpassed the 30-point mark and came into the game fourth in the NBA in scoring after the All-Star break with his 29.2 points per game, trailing such stalwarts such as Dwayne Wade and Kevin Durant.

For every crucial Robinson basket though, there was a Magic player waiting to respond. Rashard Lewis had nine fourth quarter points to go along with Turkoglu’s eight, and even the crunch time shooting of Knicks rookie Danilo Gallinari, who was a perfect 2-of-2 from beyond arc, and who scored all eight of his points in the final few minutes was unable to prevent another failed comeback.

Despite the outcome, it was Gallinari who played like a fearless warrior, expressing only shades of calm and cool when on the court. When asked if he ever feels pressure when the game is on the line and the ball in his hands, Gallinari looked up from his seat in the locker room and politely said, “No, I like these moments, they are the ones we play for, the ones that make great players champions.”

He added: “I always in my career have taken the most important shots, so I just have to play ready.”

It is apparent that Knicks head coach Mike D’Antoni can see the value in placing Gallinari on the court in the game’s waning moments. “He shows the ability to be unphased by anything,” said D’Antoni, who showered the forward with praise on his shots, “Sweet” and his basketball IQ, “he’s a very smart basketball player.”

The consensus in explaining why New York fell short, at least amongst the Knicks was that they simply did not make enough shots when they had to, mainly when they were trailing earlier in the game by double-digits.

Both guard Chris Duhon, who ended the night with no points but with a game-high 10 assists, and D’Antoni seemed to agree that they were not making them when they needed to. “We didn’t make shots. Two or three shots, the ball kind of came in and out,” said D’Antoni. “We were shooting about 27 percent, 15 points in the first quarter; that definitely hurt us."

The Knicks were indeed outshot by the Magic 51.3 percent to 41.4, but the bigger problem for the Orange and Blue seems to be their having to score at least 100 points to maybe win a game, which they have scored in their last 18 consecutive contests.

In 23 of New York’s 24 wins they scored over 100 points. Only once did they fail to hit the century mark, scoring 93 in a win over the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 30.

The new Knicks are certainly more fun to watch now than they have been in arguably the last five years.

They run the ball more, they penetrate, they have explosive players in Nate Robinson, and emerging ones in second-year player Wilson Chandler (who scored 27 points). Whether or not the MSG sanctioned “New Era” Knicks will win though is another story. Scoring is fun to watch, fastbreaks brings crowds off their seats, and it is good to see the Garden selling out games (they have sold out 14 of their 30 home games so far), but it will always be defense that wins championships, let alone securing a playoff spot.

“No not at all, we’re used to it now, and we just try to play through it,” said Knicks forward Wilson Chandler when asked if it bothers him that the Knicks are the main target in conversations pertaining to teams that don’t play defense.

Perhaps the Knicks are used to it, but until they find a way to avoid playing catch up, they will continue to scrape for every win.

New York has only won one game this season trailing after three quarters, and are 1-26 in those games.

About Bobby Ciafardini