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Magic 106 – Knicks 113: The wondrous word around the web

March 29, 2011

In a thrilling, physical and downright poor officiated encounter last night the Knicks managed to squeak by with a 113-106 OT victory over the short-handed Magic.  While the refs made some extremely disputable calls down the stretch and just flat-out missed some others, ultimately it was the Knicks toughness and surprising defensive effort from Carmelo Anthony (his red-hot shooting and 39 points didn’t hurt either) that propelled the Knicks to victory.

The Magic played the game without starting PG Jameer Nelson as well as injured backup wings J.J. Redick and Quentin Richardson.  To make matters worse, Chris Duhon injured his thumb in the 1st quarter and tried to tough out the pain but it was too much. The Magic played the remainder of the game with a rotation of only 7 people.  At one point in the 4th quarter, they had Hedo playing PG, Jason Richardson at SG, Earl Clark at SF, Ryan Anderson at PF and Dwight down low. That has to be the biggest lineup in the history of mankind.  While fun curious to watch, it probably isn’t the best floor set to lead to a win.

On Monday, Anthony called this game a virtual must-win and he certainly backed up his talk. Anthony went off for 39 points on 12-of-26 shooting and showed a lot more effort on both ends of the court. The Magic really didn’t play poorly on the defensive end against Anthony; they just saw a player with elite offensive skill go bananas. Sometimes, that’s just going to happen.

Let’s take a look at what those around the web are saying about the game:

Jonathan Abrams of the New York Times keyed in on Melo’s defense while Chauncey Billups showed how short-sighted he is:

Anthony played aggressively on defense and had a significant role in Howard’s premature exit. In the fourth quarter, with the Knicks struggling to score, he drove twice on consecutive possessions and drew Howard’s fourth and fifth fouls in a span of 41 seconds.

“He was not going to let us lose this game,” said Chauncey Billups, who delivered a crucial 3-point basket in overtime and ended with 17 points. “When you get him focused like that at both ends of the court, you are talking about maybe the best player in basketball.”

Yes, that IS the same Melo that led the Knicks to 6 straight losses before last night.

Andrew Melnick of Howard the Dunk said Dwight Howard was Dwight Howard:

Dwight Howard was Dwight Howard. He was dominant in the paint defensively. He had his way with the Knicks defenders in the paint. He got into foul trouble, eventually fouled out and picked up his 17th technical foul. All in all, one of the most Dwight-like games of the season. Howard finished with 29 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out with just over a minute to go in overtime.

Dwight was dominant in the second half, but was far from it in the first half.  The Knicks doubled him aggressively on the touch and flustered him.  He didn’t score his first FG until the 3rd quarter, but would certainly make up for it from there on out.  His big night was overshadowed though by his technical foul (he had every right to be frustrated, but still must manage it better) as well as a blatant late goaltend after getting flustered over a flat-out missed traveling call on Carmelo Anthony.  Some were saying he cost a chance at his MVP with the way he played/reacted in the final 3 minutes, but I would call that foolish.  Not only is it ignoring a GREAT second half by Dwight, but it’s ignoring an entire 82 game season. To be honest, it’s just a lazy argument for those who already think Rose should win the award.

Brian Schmitz of the Orlando Sentinel says that Gilbert Arenas wasted his chance to be a hero:

Arenas, subbing for injured Jameer Nelson, got his first start with the Magic since arriving in a risky mid-December trade.

After struggling mightily most of the time, and wondering if starting would cure his woes, Gil couldn’t thrill at Madison Square Garden.

He came up snake eyes, missing his first eight shots to finish 2-of-11 for nine points and five turnovers in the Magic’s OT loss to the Knicks on Monday night.

Well, to be fair to Gilbert… He did play 43 minutes (most since Dec 09) and played hard the entire night.  His shot wasn’t falling, but he did contribute and even pulled in 10 rebounds.  Gil can’t play defense, can’t shoot and can’t make layups anymore… but… at… least… he played hard?  Could I be any more of a Gilbert apologist?

Jim Cavan of ESPN’s TrueHoop hit upon the absence of Jameer:

The Knicks benefited greatly from the absence of Jameer Nelson, who sat out with a minor knee tweak. Nelson had given New York fits of late, averaging 22.5 points on 62 percent shooting in their past two meetings.

Rafer Alston wasn’t walking through that door.  Although the Magic could have used the former New York streetball star to slap around the Knicks a little bit… 

Evan Dunlap of the Orlando Pinstriped Post cautioned Magic fans from reading into the game too much and he is absolutely right:

But there’s no sense in dwelling too much on it, really. The Magic are practically, but not mathematically, locked into the East’s fourth playoff seed, and have been for a bit. The remaining eight games on the schedule are strictly academic, with nothing at stake except pride and a chance to fine-tune before the postseason begins. It took an otherworldly effort from Anthony for the Knicks to knock off the gravely shorthanded Magic. Nobody’s going to remember this game next week.

Evan hit the nail on the head. Move on Magic fans. The officials sucked but the depleted Magic were up against a lot more than Dick Bavetta last night.  They move on to Atlanta on Wednesday in a likely preview of their first round playoff series.

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