Knicks Go Down in Front of Old Greats

Published on: 30th March, 2009

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New York — It was a night when Knick greatness was on display, a night when the most accomplished players in the history of this once-proud franchise came back home to the “World’s Greatest Arena” to let the crowd’s warmth and great memories shower over them in the form of standing ovations. When Willis Reed, Patrick Ewing, Bernard King, Richie Guerin, and Walt Frazier stepped onto the basketball court at halftime as Madison Square Garden announcer, Al Trautwig brought them out, one by one to thunderous applause.

So what did the Knicks do? The same thing they’ve been doing with regularity down the playoff stretch run this season. They lost, of course. And, they lost a game they’d been winning most of the time against a better, more-talented team in the Orlando Magic. What would have been a superb win turned into another miserable, heart-wrenching loss, 106-102.

As usual, the Knicks had no answer upfront for the talent and tenacity of one Dwight Howard, the 6’11” wonderkind of an athlete who once more torched the home team with 29 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocked shots and an innumerable amount of changed shots and intimidations. The kid, now in his fifth season, is a bonafide superstar in this league, now.

“We are just trying to get better each game,” said Howard. “We have to work on a lot of things and one of the things that has to be consistent is our defense. Tonight we didn’t play as good a defense as we need to.”

Howard must have been talking about the first half of the game when the Knicks shot exactly 50% from the field (21 of 42) while outscoring the Magic 54-50 over the first 24 minutes.

It all changed for the Knicks in the second half however, as Orlando began to clamp down on the Knicks drive and dish offense, holding them to just 15 of 45 (33%) shooting in the second half.

The Knicks had built their lead to 11 points, 79-68 with  the third quarter when Nate Robinson, not thinking as he should have, fouled Anthony Johnson 25 feet from the basket with 1.7 seconds to go in the quarter which also happened to be his fourth personal foul. Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni threw a fit along the sidelines, slamming his hand on the the table alongside the Knicks bench than screaming at Robinson for his ill-timed blunder. Johnson hit two foul shots to cut the lead to nine points by quarter’s end.

Orlando woke up from their game-long stupor in the first minutes of the final quarter. From the 9:34 mark of the fourth quarter, the Magic outscored the Knicks 32-18 to put it away.The Knicks shot just 6 of 22 in the period (27%) as Howard and his buddies willed out another win for this very talented, up and coming young team.

“They just hit big shots down the stretch,” said Chris Wilcox. “(Hedo) Turkoglu hit a three in the corner, Rashard (Lewis) hit a 3 at the top. They cut it down and then they played great defense and we couldn’t get a shot to fall. I think they stepped up in the fourth quarter and got it to their big guys and their big guys hit shots. That’s what killed us.”

Never have truer words been spoken.

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