Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy isn’t planning on resting any players down the stretch.
Orlando (55-23) is locked in as the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference behind Cleveland, which hosts the Magic on Sunday. While Cavaliers coach Mike Brown has said that he will rest his players, Van Gundy has said he won’t unless they’re injured because the Magic, who use a deep bench, don’t have anybody in the top 40 in minutes.
“They have home-court wrapped up all the way through the playoffs, so he’s right,” Van Gundy said. “It’s a nice situation to be in. I’ve never been there.”
In addition, Orlando can still gain home-court advantage for a possible NBA finals rematch with the Los Angeles Lakers. The Magic need help since the Lakers own the tiebreaker.
Every Orlando player played less than 30 minutes in a 121-94 victory over Washington on Wednesday. Howard had 17 points and 10 rebounds, but the story of the game was Orlando’s 65 bench points.
“It definitely helps,” Van Gundy said. “If you go down our 12-man roster, every one of those guys has played major roles in multiple wins. It’s not like one game or something.”
Howard leads the league with 13.2 rebounds per game with Lee second at 11.9. Having a top rebounder, though, is about all these teams have in common.
New York (28-50) has lost 50 games for the third straight season after falling 113-105 at Indiana on Wednesday. The Knicks allowed 72 points in the first half and seemed to blame the loss on having played the night before in a 104-101 home win over Boston.
“I thought we were dead from the start with the game last night,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “We didn’t have the necessary energy to start the game off.”
Lee had plenty of energy with 16 points and 16 boards for his fifth straight double-double. He’s second in the Eastern Conference with 52 double-doubles behind Howard’s NBA-leading 60.
Orlando is 2-0 against New York and trying to sweep the series for the first time since going 4-0 in 2001-02. Howard averaged 21.5 points and 13.0 rebounds in the first two meetings as the Magic shot 52.8 percent.
Lee has been limited to 14.5 points and 9.0 boards per game against Orlando.