Knicks takeaways from Wednesday's 118-100 loss to Magic, including limping into All-Star break

The Knicks head into the All-Star break on a four-game losing streak after dropping Wednesday's contest against the Orlando Magic, 118-100.

Here are the takeaways...

- Without key starters Isaiah Hartenstein and Donte DiVincenzo nor recently acquired Bojan Bogdanovic off the bench, the Knicks once again had to lean heavily on Jalen Brunson to produce offensively, which he did early and often in Orlando.

Scoring 12 of New York’s first 15 points without missing a shot attempt, Brunson appeared to be on his way to another offensive explosion as has been so customary this season, especially lately with other stars out of the lineup. Brunson started out 4-for-4 from the field (2-for-2 from three) to help the Knicks keep up with a hot shooting Magic team.

Players like Josh Hart, Precious Achiuwa and Alec Burks, who made his first start since coming back to New York for an ailing squad, made some shots here and there, but the story of the first quarter was Brunson who had 20 points after the first 12 minutes to give New York a 36-27 lead, despite missing so many players.

- Earning a well-deserved respite with his team up by nine points thanks to him, Brunson started the second quarter on the bench as head coach Tom Thibodeau tried giving his point guard a break, figuring he would need him over the course of the game against a tough Magic team.

He was right as Orlando, relieved not to see Brunson on the floor, went on a 17-0 run during that span following a Burks three-pointer to kick things off in the quarter and turn a nine-point deficit into a five-point lead.

Seeing enough, Thibodeau had to get Brunson back in the game which helped stabilize the offense and stop the bleeding as both teams traded baskets until just under two minutes left in the half.

Already lighting it up from the field and not missing a shot to start the contest, Pablo Banchero ended the half strong by scoring 13 of his team’s final 19 points. Last season’s Rookie of the Year went into halftime with 22 points on 9-of-10 shooting to help the Magic lead 65-55.

Brunson also finished the half with 22 points, but after scoring 20 in the first quarter, he only had two points in the second quarter as Orlando outscored the Knicks, 38-19.

- The third quarter featured some more Brunson who remained hot from the field, especially from deep, and who had nine points in the quarter to keep New York within striking distance. Achiuwa, who had a strong first half with nine points and eight rebounds (six offensive rebounds), kept it going to start the second half and finished the quarter with nine points and four boards (three offensive).

Other than Brunson and Achiuwa, who hit a three with under a minute left in the third to make it 89-77 heading into the fourth quarter, the Knicks couldn’t get much going offensively. The Magic didn’t shoot the lights out either as both teams combined for just 46 points in the third quarter.

- Essentially waving the white flag by taking out Brunson after a 10-5 Orlando run to start the fourth quarter, it was clear the Knicks were just trying to get to the All-Star break unscathed and without any more injuries.

Not a deep bench to begin with, Thibodeau emptied it in the fourth quarter as the Magic poured it on. Banchero’s special night continued as he finished with a game-high 36 points on 15-of-20 shooting (6-of-10 from three). He also had seven rebounds and five assists. Overall, Orlando shot 63 percent (48-for-76) from the floor compared to New York’s 42 percent (35-for-84).

Despite the loss, Achiuwa had a career-high 23 points to go along with 14 rebounds, including a ridiculous 10 offensive rebounds, and five assists. Brunson had 33.


What's next

The Knicks head into the All-Star break at a much needed time with just about half of their roster out with injuries.

After some long-awaited rest and recovery, New York will return to action on Thursday, Feb. 22 against the Philadelphia 76ers at 7 p.m. at Wells Fargo Center in Philly.