Knicks 106, Magic 94

Dave Buscema, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- J.R. Smith had 22 points and Carmelo Anthony returned from his knee injury with 21 for the New York Knicks in a 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
Anthony, whose right knee injury led to a prolonged absence, helped the Knicks make up for some other ailments with a revamped lineup for their second straight win.
The Knicks (40-26), who had dropped the first four games of a five-game road trip before salvaging the finale, backed up that victory with a win over the hapless Magic (18-51). New York was again without injured center Tyson Chandler and started a small lineup with two point guards, Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni, and swingman Iman Shumpert playing up front along with Anthony and forward Kenyon Martin.
Orlando was also without its starting center as Nikola Vucevic was out with an illness, it was announced shortly before the game. The Magic lost for the fifth straight time, the fifth time this year they've had a losing streak of at least five games.
Tobias Harris and Andrew Nicholson led Orlando with 14 points apiece while Beno Udrih added 13.
The Knicks led wire-to-wire and held on after a brief spurt from Orlando in the fourth quarter to trim what had been a 17-point deficit with a 14-4 run late in the final period. Nicholson scored four straight points, including a layup that cut the Knicks' lead to 97-88 with 3:17 left.
But the Knicks countered with the next four points, including a crowd-pleasing slam by James White with less than two minutes remaining to all but seal the game.
Up by 15 points at halftime, the Knicks expanded the lead to 83-65 entering the fourth quarter. Smith scored seven points in the third, including a pair of 3-pointers for New York, capping a 13-4 run with four straight points. That gave the Knicks a 76-60 lead with 2:27 left in the third quarter.
The Knicks took a 51-46 lead into halftime after leading by as much as 15 in the first quarter.
Anthony settled in nicely in the first quarter with seven points to lead the Knicks to a 26-15 lead. He had 14 by halftime and was 5 of 9 from the field.
But the Magic, led by eight points apiece for Kyle O'Quinn and Udrih, finished the first quarter and began the second on a 12-2 run and ended the half with a 6-1 spurt, to stay close.
NOTES: Anthony had missed six of the Knicks' past eight games because of a knee injury. The forward initially delayed having the knee drained, but did so last Thursday and told reporters at shootaround Wednesday morning he felt good and ready to play. ... The Knicks front court, already without Chandler who has missed the past four games and is expected to be out for a week because of his strained neck, also was missing forward Kurt Thomas. Thomas has played limited minutes, but could have received more with Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace out. Thomas (foot) could miss as much as a month, according to the team. ... Vucevic had played in all of the Magic's 68 previous games, the only Orlando player to do so. ... Spike Lee celebrated his birthday at the Garden, and the Knicks acknowledged him with a "Happy birthday" message on the scoreboard screen.

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