Donning their vintage black pinstripe jerseys, the Orlando Magic gave the New York Knicks an old-school beatdown in a 118-104 victory on Wednesday night.
Given that the Magic didn’t shoot exceptionally well (outside of the third quarter) and Vince Carter struggled (4-14, 10 points), you’d think the Knicks would’ve hung around. But the Magic didn’t let them linger, putting the game away in the third quarter by working their inside-out game to near perfection and not letting up defensively. The Magic scored 41 points in the quarter, benefiting from eight combined three-pointers from Rashard Lewis and Mickael Pietrus.
Fundamentally, it was one of the best games the Magic played all season as far as ball movement, communication, defensive rotation and togetherness goes.
Dwight Howard scored 11 of the team’s first 13 points as the Knicks chose to single-team Howard and keep all of the shooters covered. It’s safe to say that didn’t work out. Howard started 5-for-5 with four dunks, and the Knicks were forced to bring the double-team throughout the rest of the game. That led to a three-point barrage for the Magic in a 41-point third quarter — for the game, Pietrus and Lewis hit 10 of 15 threes.
“That was in large part the way we should play,” said Stan Van Gundy, whose team scored 50 points in the paint and 22 fastbreak points. “Early in the game, they decided not to double team him, and he just went to work. And as the game went on they went to the double team every time, and we knocked down 3s.”
Granted, the win came against a Knicks team that was on the second leg of a back to back. And the Magic were playing on two days rest. But anytime you play a game almost exactly to strategy, you’re happy with it.
Orlando’s uniforms were the buzz of the evening, if you ask me. They were in the classic black pinstripe uniforms, a look that brought back nostalgia of Orlando’s run-and-gun teams from the mid-90s. And it’s safe to say there were some similarities between players tonight and players 14 years ago. Let’s take a look.
Rashard Lewis :: Dennis Scott
When Lewis hit his first of five three-pointers on Wednesday night, I half-expected to hear the announcer shout “Threeeeeee-D!” Scott was the Magic’s outside shooting specialist in 1995-96, averaging 12.9 points on 42.6 percent three-point shooting. While Lewis’ numbers were better than that on Wednesday — he had 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting with 11 rebounds — the comparisons are valid. Like Scott, when Lewis gets the ball on the three-point line, the crowd gets excited.
Brandon Bass :: Horace Grant
Both of these guys are broad-shouldered big men who live off rebounding and hitting the mid-range jumper. Bass played maybe his best game in a Magic uniform on Wednesday, scoring 17 points in 18 minutes on 7-of-12 shooting. Unlike Grant, Bass spent most of his time at the center position, a spot where he appears to feel more comfortable. He didn’t say he prefers the center spot, but postgame he did say other centers “don’t want to run with somebody like me and be as active as me,” and that’s a reason why it’s great for the Magic to have a weapon like Bass to throw out there at the 5.
Dwight Howard :: who do you think?
Shaq posted elite offensive numbers in Orlando — he averaged 29.3 points per game in 1994-95 — and he absolutely forced teams to double-team him. Dwight did the same thing tonight, crushing David Lee in one-on-one coverage and putting the pressure on New York’s defense. Howard finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds while sitting out the fourth quarter.
Mickael Pietrus :: Nick Anderson
Anderson, the first-ever Magic draft pick and now a community ambassador for the Magic, was in the building as Pietrus put together a nice impression of him — MP had 17 points, hit 5-of-8 threes and added a steal and a block. Pietrus is also sporting a new mini-afro, similar to Anderson’s look here.
Unfortunately, no prominent pictures were taken of Pietrus on Wednesday night. Special thanks to visitor Frank for referring us to the picture of MP.