After losing their first two games after the All-Star break on the road, the Orlando Magic returned to the Amway Center on Friday night to host the New York Knicks. Friday night, however, wasn’t just another night, it was a “Legends Night,” a night were they welcomed back one of the franchises’ most notable players: Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway. Honor Penny they did, pulling out a heart-stopping double overtime victory, 129-121 against their Eastern Conference foes.
The first quarter was frantic and high-paced, with the teams going back and forth, with neither being able to grab a lead of more than five. Both were able to get their offenses running smoothly, getting good looks seemingly every time down the floor. Fortunately for the Magic, Arron Afflalo’s 14-point quarter was just enough, as they carried a minuscule one-point lead into the second, 31-30.
Looking to keep up the momentum the starters had gotten them, the Magic turned to their second unit—the “Young Guns” as they like to be called—to keep things afloat. That they did, helping the Magic stretch their lead out to as many as six before the starters returned to continue going blow-for-blow with the Knicks and their starting group. Unfortunately for the Magic, they were unable to keep up for the entire 12 minutes, falling behind by seven, 60-53 at halftime.
Like the first half, Orlando was fluid on offense, going back and forth with the high-powered Knicks early. Then Carmelo Anthony activated his kill mode and went crazy, knocking down shot after shot after shot en route to an 11-point quarter. Fortunately for the Magic, Melo cooled, allowing Orlando to keep the game close. Although they struggled to get stops, and the Knicks slowly started to pull away, the Magic were able to fight late, trailing 86-79 going into the deciding quarter.
A resilient Magic bunch started the fourth quarter, locking down on defense and frustrating the Knicks early and often. Led by Oladipo, the Magic charged back into it, grabbing the lead at 98-96. Then, the Knicks found a rhythm again offensively, knocking down a couple of big threes to push the lead to 104-100. Orlando didn’t let its hard work fall to the side, tying the game up and forcing overtime, with the Eastern Conference foes tied at 106.
Going into overtime, the Magic seemed to have the momentum after closing regulation with their big run. The teams, much like early in the game, went back and forth, with neither being able to pull away. Much like the end of regulation, the Magic had a chance to win it, but big man Nikola Vucevics’ shot came up agonizingly short, sending the game into its second overtime period tied at 113.
The second overtime quickly turned into The Oladipo Show. Slashing through the lane, cutting down the baseline, finding teammates for open shots, the Indiana product did a little bit of everything, helping will the Magic to victory. Anthony wasn’t going to let New York go quietly, but in the end it wasn’t enough as the Magic took home the hard fought victory.
The Magic were led by big nights from two of their most important players, Afflalo and Oladipo. Prior to leaving with a sprained right ankle, Afflalo was able to pour in a team-high 32 points on an efficient 11-of-18 from the field. Oladipo dazzled, dishing out a career-high 14 assists to go along with 30 points, 25 of which came in the second half. Tobias Harris wasn’t far behind the guard duo, chipping in 22 points and eight rebounds, while center Nikola Vucevic notched yet another double-double, finishing with 14 points and 15 rebounds. E’Twaun Moore and Maurice Harkless led the way off the bench, finishing with 10 apiece.
From the start, it was clear Carmelo would have to carry the lowly Knicks. Unfortunately, Melo’s 44-point, 11-rebound night wasn’t enough. Joining the high-scoring forward in double figures were guards Raymond Felton and Tim Hardaway Jr., scoring 15 each. Defensive anchor Tyson Chandler gave the visiting Knicks 14 points and 11 rebounds, while J.R. Smith and Amar’e Stoudemire each poured in 10.
Magic Game Notes
After a rough shooting performance in the first half, going 3-of-10 from the field, Oladipo turned it around, going a hot 8-of-13 in the second half and overtime combined. The electrifying rookie looked poised running the offense, dishing out assist after assist. He was able to cut his way through the Knicks defense, turning it into swiss cheese. After the game, Oladipo said that, “I haven’t even scratched the surface yet.” He went on to add that he wants to be one of the greatest players to ever play the game. If he’s able to continue to impress people this much, he’ll have no problem becoming one of the league’s best.
Bye Bye Big Baby
After failing to trade the veteran power forward, the Magic and Davis agreed to a “mutual” contract buyout. Prior to the game, general manager Rob Hennigan said that they “wanted to do right by Glen,” and allow him to look for a contender to play for. The news was a bit shocking, as no one had any hints to this happening. However, Hennigan hinted that it was an option they had been discussing, and in the end they felt that was best for both Davis and the organization. The move opens up more playing time for the team to evaluate some of their younger players, most notably Andrew Nicholson.
Jacque Vaughn on Oladipo playing over Nelson:
“I just went with Vic tonight. It was nothing that was thought out beforehand. I think it just materialized as the game went on and we kind of stayed with that same unit. He was part of that unit.”
Stat of the Night
Orlando outscored New York 54-28 in the paint.