The Orlando Magic hobbled its way into the Big Apple Monday night.
And considering the injury bug that has recently plagued the team, they nearly had a chance to win this game at Madison Square Garden, losing to the New York Knicks 113-106 in overtime.
What the Magic (47-27) can take away from this Eastern Conference battle is this: without J.J Redick (strained lower abdomen), Jameer Nelson (sprained left knee) and Quentin Richardson (back spasms), the rest of the roster found a way to be competitive. Orlando also lost Chris Duhon in the second quarter when he injured his right thumb.
Dwight Howard had his 29 points and 18 rebounds, and connected on 11-of-15 from the free throw line. His big contributions is what you come to expect from him. What you do not expect from him is the inability to score a field goal in the first half, where he only took two shots and all of his points came from the charity stripe. Add to this the fact that he picked up his 17th technical foul in overtime.
There a couple of bright spots from the offensive side. Jason Richardson contributed 24 points. Entering Monday night’s game, he was averaging 14.7 points since joining Orlando. Richardson shot the ball 20 times, making 10 of them. Hedo Turkoglu had another great night with 18 points and Brandon Bass scored 14.
Disappointing was the performance of Gilbert Arenas. Arenas got the starting nod in place of Nelson, scoring nine points on 2-of-9 shooting from the field. In an opportunity to impress Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, he instead continued the sluggish performance of late. A couple of positives included 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals.
The trouble for the Magic came in their inability to contain Carmello Carmelo Anthony. Anthony scored a whopping 39 points, leading the Knicks (36-38) to their first win over Orlando this season. Turnovers, again, played a role in hurting the Magic. They turned the ball over 21 times and sent New York to the line 41 times, nine more than they did.
Maybe the Knicks were in desparate need of this week and this elevated their game (They are now 2-8 in their last 10 contests). But regardless, the black-and-blue battered Orlando squad were hurt with their injuries. It didn’t help that Howard, Turkoglu and Earl Campbell Clark all fouled out, but this was definitely one of those awkward games.
To close it out, Richardson had the shot of the night with 3-pointer that tied the game at 100 with 5.7 seconds remaining in regulation. The Magic return to the hardwood Wednesday night in Atlanta.