Wednesday, March 22, 2023
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NBA Preview: New York Knicks (29-36) at Orlando Magic (22-32)

After overcoming a 20-point deficit to win a game for the first time this season, the New York Knicks will try to carry the momentum into Tuesday’s matchup against the host Orlando Magic.

The Knicks’ roller-coaster season hit a new peak over the weekend. One night after losing 134-128 in overtime to the Los Angeles Clippers, New York rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat the Philadelphia 76ers 108-97 on Sunday.

Julius Randle had 24 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the victory, while Jalen Brunson added 21 points. The Knicks also received a welcome boost from reserves Evan Fournier (17 points), Miles McBride (14 points) and Isaiah Hartenstein (14 rebounds).

New York has struggled defensively since center Mitchell Robinson fractured his right thumb 10 games ago but held the Sixers to 18 points in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

Much of the blame for the Knicks’ defensive woes has been placed on fourth-year pro RJ Barrett, but coach Tom Thibodeau pushed back on that notion.

Barrett sat out Sunday against Philadelphia due to a non-COVID illness but could return to face an improving Orlando squad.

The Magic concluded a four-game road trip with a 3-1 mark after defeating the Charlotte Hornets 119-113 on Sunday. Paolo Banchero had 22 points and 10 rebounds in the victory, while Wendell Carter Jr. added 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Orlando has gone 17-12 since Dec. 7, when they were 5-20. The recent road trip included impressive wins over the Philadelphia 76ers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

After starting the season by losing 11 of its first 12 road games, the Magic have gone 8-8 away from Orlando.

The Magic are looking to avenge a 115-102 loss to the Knicks on Oct. 24. Randle scored 25 points for the Knicks in the victory.

Orlando will be without center Mo Bamba, who is serving a four-game suspension following an altercation during the game at Minnesota on Friday.

The Magic boast a promising young core led by Banchero, who is averaging a team-high 20.3 points. The 6-foot-10 forward leads all NBA rookies in scoring and minutes played.

Orlando guard Markelle Fultz has also been a consistent scoring threat, averaging 16.3 points on 61.8 percent shooting over his last three games.

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