NBA: Magic stop Knicks to stay in playoff race

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Apr 04 2019 09:52 AM

New York Knicks center Mitchell Robinson (26) guards against Orlando Magic center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first quarter at Amway Center. Reinhold Matay, USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Nikola Vucevic had 29 points and 13 rebounds for the Orlando Magic, who are in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race after a 114-100 win at home over the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Terrence Ross added 23 points off the bench for the Magic, and Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier scored 19 points each.

Orlando began the night a half-game behind Miami for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. The Magic were also one game back of Brooklyn and 1 ½ games behind Detroit. All four teams were in action Wednesday night.

Orlando plays its last home game Friday against Atlanta before finishing the regular season on the road at Boston and Charlotte.

Mario Hezonja led the Knicks with 29 points while collecting nine rebounds and five assists against his former team. Hezonja was selected No. 5 overall by the Magic in the 2015 NBA Draft.

New York owns the worst record in the league and has secured one of the three lottery slots with a 14 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick.

The Magic held off a New York run in the third quarter by responding with a scoring spree of their own.

The Magic had a 16-point lead early in the third quarter, until Hezonja scored eight straight points to kick off a 17-5 run. The Knicks cut the Magic lead to two later in the third, but Ross hit back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers in the final minute of the quarter to pad Orlando's lead back to double digits.

Orlando continued its momentum in the fourth, compiling a 17-2 run during a three-minute stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters. Orlando then kept enough distance in the fourth quarter to earn its 39th win of the season.

Vucevic nailed a 3-pointer just before the halftime buzzer sounded to give the Magic a 58-45 halftime lead after a sluggish start to the game.

The Knicks took a 24-16 lead in the first quarter, but Orlando's offense picked it up the pace the rest of the half. The Magic shot 58.3 percent from the field in the second quarter and closed out the half on a 10-0 run.

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