Magic late push leads them past the Knicks

Dwight Howard scored 19-second half points to lift the Magic over New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

It worked to perfection.

Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy called a timeout with 8 minutes and 41 seconds remaining in the third quarter that helped turn this game around and give his team the upper hand.

The Magic (46-26) defeated the New York Knicks 111-99 at Madison Square Garden, leading to their third consecutive win against the Knicks (35-36).

Following a close first half, and a slow start to the third quarter, Orlando regrouped by outscoring New York 56-40 in the final 24 minutes. They were led by star center Dwight Howard, who contributed 33 points and 11 rebounds. Howard scored 19 of his point total in the second half, including 11 of 13 from the free throw line.

A key for the Magic was their ability to score on a high percentage of their shots while completely shutting down the Knicks on the other end of the court. Going back to the second half and its effectiveness, Orlando made 17 of their 33 field goal attempts for nearly 52 percent. While New York took five more shots in the fourth quarter, they shot 7 of 21.

“We didn’t give up a ton of easy shots,” Van Gundy said following the win. “That was the key to the game.”

In addition to Howard’s offensive productivity, the team combined to shoot 48.7 percent from the floor. Jameer Nelson scored 19 points and made four 3-pointers. Hedo Turkoglu also made four 3-pointers and scored 16 points. Overall, the starters made the biggest contributions on scoreboard. Gilbert Arenas was the only player from the bench that stood out with 9 points in 19 minutes of play.

Nelson’s dynamic ability was on display at the Garden. Not only was his stroke from three smooth, he had four assists and a steal. Nelson is averaging 12.8 points per game and has a knack for scoring well against the Knicks. Whenever the Magic face New York, Nelson averages 18 points per game against them.

The Magic were aggressive in the paint, scoring 40 points on 20 of 36 shooting. They added nine second chance points.

Unlike the last meeting between the two teams, in which they combined for 97 free throw attempts, Wednesday night’s game seemed more tamed in comparison.

The Magic are riding a four-game win streak that dates back to an overtime win at Milwaukee last week. Over the month of March, Orlando stands at 8-4 during the month-long stretch. 

While Carmello Anthony scored 24 points and Chauncey Billups added 17, Amar’e Stoudemire had to work for his 13 points. He was held to 6 of 20 shooting by a tough Magic defense. Orlando dominated on the boards, especially on defense with 37.

For the Knicks, the loss dropped them to a game below .500 and 7-10 since the trade with Denver. 

Orlando is averaging 96.5 points per game during the current win streak, while giving 89 points per contest. New York became the first team during this four-game run to score over 90 points.

Next on the schedule is a home game at the Amway Center, where they host the New Jersey Nets. The last meeting between these two teams came before New Jersey’s acquisition of Deron Williams, a 104-88 win by Orlando in December.