The banged-up New York Knicks hoped for some good old-fashioned Big Apple mystique when the Orlando Magic paid a visit Thursday.
The deck was stacked against the New York Knicks from the start on Thursday.
Derrick Rose remained out due to COVID-19 protocols. Elfrid Payton’s hamstring was still tight. Now, to make matters even worse, a sprained ankle would keep rookie sensation Immanuel Quickley out of the evening’s game against the Orlando Magic.
That left Frank Ntilikina as the starting point guard, and not much help otherwise. Not exactly ideal circumstances when facing the team from Supreme Emperor Mouse’s home base.
And how did the Knicks fare in this NBA edition of Operation?
Tink, hit the lights!
1st quarter: The troops rally
All things considered, this wasn’t an awful quarter for the New York Knicks. However, Orlando went on an early 15-2 run that forced a quick New York timeout. Could the already shorthanded Knicks reset?
Well, Tom Thibodeau must have channeled Captain Li Shang because New York looked like a different team the rest of the way. The Magic were outscored 14-6 the rest of the quarter with RJ Barrett’s nine points leading the way.
Now, they just had to keep that up for three more quarters.
Halftime report: Reggie’s rampage
Just call him Buzz Lightyear, because Reggie Bullock came to the rescue. AND he did it without the delusion of being a Space Ranger!
But that didn’t stop the former Tar Heel from performing well in space in the second quarter. Neither team performed particularly well, but the New York Knicks led 45-44 at halftime on the back of eight consecutive second-quarter points from Bullock.
And the Woody to Bullock’s Buzz was Alec Burks, the Knicks’ leading scorer at the half with 14 points. Orlando’s large-eared overlord on Lake Buena Vista, meanwhile, certainly could not have been more displeased with his team’s effort.
3rd quarter: Randle Hood and his Merry Men
That’s right, folks. The Julius Randle puns aren’t going away. If you have a problem with that, tell the New York Knicks All-Star to stop flirting with triple-doubles.
After a quiet first half, Randle erupted for 10 points in the third and entered the fourth quarter with the following line: 14 points, nine rebounds, 15 assists. Even Ntilikina stepped up with nine points of his own.
As the Orlando Magic closed the quarter on a 10-0 run, the Knicks led 72-66 entering the fourth. Could they overcome their issues at guard and close the deal?
4th quarter: Photo finish
I don’t mean to break away from our lovely evening of Disney references, but the fourth quarter had serious Rocky-Apollo vibes. The New York Knicks and Orlando Magic traded 10-0 runs and somewhere in the middle of it all, Randle got his triple double.
Frank Ntilikina hit a clutch three and Alec Burks finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. But that wasn’t what defined the game at all.
In the final seconds, with the Magic down by one, Bullock stole Evan Fournier’s pass. The Knicks were able to run out the clock and win the game 94-93.
Player of the game: Julius Randle
18 points, 20 rebounds, and a career-high 17 assists. Give this man the MVP trophy now.