Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 95, New York Knicks 83

Nikola Vucevic got himself and the Orlando Magic offense moving with a big second half against the New York Knicks. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
Nikola Vucevic got himself and the Orlando Magic offense moving with a big second half against the New York Knicks. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic finally found their offensive legs in the second half and were able to ride that to a win at home against the New York Knicks.

83. 27. 95. 38. Final

You could sense the relief when the ball finally went in for Aaron Gordon and the Orlando Magic.

Nikola Vucevic had his game going and was starting to pick up in the post. The New York Knicks would have to crash, double, pull the chair, take charges and do whatever they could to slow him down.

When Nikola Vucevic backed his man down and caused that crash, he fed the ball back out to Aaron Gordon for the three. This time the open shot went in. The Magic had the lead against a plucky Knicks team.

As New York kept fighting back, the lid was off the jar for Gordon.

With Orlando up by only four points, Jonathan Isaac swung the ball to Aaron Gordon in the corner after a drive. Gordon rose in rhythm for the basket. On the next possession, Gordon was able to duck into the lane and finish at the rim.

As the icing on the cake, Gordon closed a 95-83 win over the Knicks at the Amway Center on Wednesday with a steal and a windmill-behind-the-head jam, his first real highlight dunk of the year.

A sigh of relief indeed.

After another frustrating offensive first half, the Magic woke up in the third quarter, recording their first 30-point quarter of the season. The Magic moved the ball a whole lot better and found gaps within the defense. They were able to run their pick and roll more effectively.

A big part of that was Vucevic. He made those in-between shots in the pick and roll that he likes. He moved decisively and quickly and that kept the Magic’s offense moving. They did not stand around and the ball found the open man.

Orlando’s defense continued to deliver, putting the cap on the game.

The Magic held the Knicks without a field goal for the final 4:25 of the game with Jonathan Isaac swarming Julius Randle and the team contesting every shot in the paint. They locked the Knicks down for much of the second half and certainly down the stretch.

The Knicks finished shooting just 37.8 percent for the game. The Knicks hit on only 7 of 31 3-pointers for the entire game. And the Magic outrebounded them 52-44, including 17-10 on the offensive glass. After some early struggles boxing out, Orlando locked down the glass by the end of the game too.

The Magic still went stagnant for parts of the second half, but their starters finally stepped up when called upon. They delivered an important victory and a sigh of relief in the end.

Nikola Vucevic finally started to look like himself. He worked pick and rolls in between the defense, hitting that short jumper and, if that was not there, moving quickly into a post-up and hook shot. Vucevic rarely waited to move, he kept the ball moving and kept waiting for the defense to react to him.<p>That was what he did in the second half, at least. That is where he scored the bulk of his 21 points and grabbed morst of his 13 rebounds. He dished out four assists, putting a much more familiar stat line for the big man.</p><p>His first half was far from good though. He struggled to keep contact with <a href=. C. Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B

B. Aaron Gordon too has struggled to get his shot going and the early part of the game seemed to be more of the same. Unlike the team’s previous three games, Gordon seemed more determined to get himself going. And that was part of the problem. He was dribbling around too much and settling for mid-range pull-ups. His first possession he tried to challenge Mitchell Robinson directly and got a block back to him for his trouble.<p>But Gordon slowly figured things out. He shook off his 2-for-8 start to finish shooting 6 for 13 from the floor. He scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, like Nikola Vucevic shaking off some early struggles to find a body and box out. Gordon’s revival in energy was as much a part of the Magic’s rebirth as anything else.</p><p>Aaron Gordon played decent defense on Julius Randle throughout the night too when he got his turn. He was able to get down and keep Randle on the perimeter, forcing him to pass out or hit tough fadeaway jumpers. Gordon’s defense has been a big spark for the team overall early in the season.</p>. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

F. Orlando Magic. JONATHAN ISAAC. A. The one constant for the Orlando Magic throughout the season has been Jonathan Isaac. the Magic are not running any plays for him and so he has to find his fit within the offense. Yet, it is so clear what kind of impact he makes every game. He is the best defender on a team of really good defenders. And some nights, it does not feel particularly close.<p>Jonathan Isaac got the call to try to lock down Julius Randle late in this game. Randle is a big traditional post player who can hold his ground and move guys. But Isaac did a good job keeping his feet and standing firm. He forced Randle into some tough fadeaway. But it was Isaac winning the battle in the end.</p><p>Isaac was everywhere defensively with three blocks. It took him a while to find his offense — his first shot was a pull-up make with a minute left in the second quarter. But he found the ball early in the third to get himself going. He finished with 10 points and added four assists in a really strong effort.</p>

<a href=. C. Orlando Magic. MOHAMED BAMBA. B+

NEW YORK KNICKS. B+. The New York Knicks are ready to fight. That is about the biggest thing they have proven throughout the early part of the season. They are going to have to do that to have a chance and they have to catch teams by surprise who might be sleeping on them. New York is certainly willing to do that.<p>Julius Randle had another fantastic game, scoring 16 points to go with 10 rebounds and seven assists. The Knicks ran everything through him and he made a lot of good decisions to keep the Knicks moving. New York struggled to score but the team was disciplined and energetic. The Knicks certainly came to play.</p><p>What ultimately doomed them was their lack of offensive options. They could not hit from the outside with <a href=. 1-4. 14th East

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The Orlando Magic continue their homestand for the first of a weekend back-to-back Friday against the Milwaukee Bucks.