Knicks hold off Magic; Anthony, Felton hurt

Tim Povtak, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

ORLANDO, Fla. -- In a season where so much has gone wrong, the New York Knicks found a way to make it go right Monday night.
The Knicks escaped with a 103-98 victory over the Orlando Magic, but only after blowing a 25-point third-quarter lead and losing forward Carmelo Anthony and point guard Raymond Felton in the second half.
Anthony left with a left ankle sprain in the third quarter and Felton with a strained right groin late in the fourth.
The Knicks (9-18) survived by responding down the stretch, getting big baskets from forward Andrea Bargnani and six consecutive free throws from reserve point guard Beno Udrih.
"We pulled it out because other guys stepped up," said Anthony, who watched the fourth quarter from the locker room. "We got the effort we've been looking for. Tonight, we were out there just playing ball."
Anthony still led the Knicks with 19 points. Reserve guard J.R. Smith had 18 points and 10 rebounds. Center Tyson Chandler had 10 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Bargnani had 13 points, including six down the stretch when he responded each time the Magic got too close.
The Magic (8-20) were led by guard Arron Afflalo with 26 points and forward Glen Davis with 20. Center Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 12 rebounds.
The Magic closed that 25-point gap to just one point early in fourth quarter, then again pulled within 91-89 and 93-91 late in the game. All three times, Bargnani hit jumpers to extend the shrinking lead.
"We made the right plays at the end," Bargnani said. "Everything we do is connected to Carmelo. When he went out, things changed. But we responded. We were locked in the last five minutes."
Anthony said he is hoping to play Christmas Day when the Knicks are home against Oklahoma City. Felton, who left with 3:14 remaining, wasn't as optimistic. Both will be evaluated after getting treatment on Tuesday.
Although the Magic never led in the second half, the Knicks needed a strong finish to secure the victory. Udrih hit all six of his free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.
The Knicks beat the Magic in New York earlier this month by 38 points.
Anthony, who has led the Knicks in scoring in every game this season, limped off the court midway in the third period with the Knicks still leading 72-52. He twisted his left ankle when he landed on the foot of Orlando forward Tobias Harris under the New York basket.
Earlier in the period, Anthony was called for a technical foul after complaining about not getting a foul called against his defender.
Felton, who returned to action Monday after missing the previous six games with a hamstring strain, was helped off the court by the medical staff after getting 13 points and four assists.
"All teams make runs. They made a helluva run against us," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson. "I applaud our team. We fought back. When Carmelo went out, we kind of, hung our heads, but we just kept fighting and grinding and made some defensive stops."
The Magic closed to within 84-83 early in the fourth on a put-back by reserve forward Jason Maxiell, but Bargnani answered quickly.
The Magic dominated the third quarter, cutting a 25-point deficit to just six. The Knicks still led 84-76 when the fourth period began. The Knicks, who had just one turnover in the first half, had five turnovers in the third period. Afflalo had 10 points and forward Glen Davis nine to lead the Magic's third-quarter turnaround.
"I'm not that good of a coach to dig a hole like that and try to fight our way back into the games continuously," said Magic coach Jacque Vaughn. "I did like the kind of frenetic and maniacal approach that we had in the second half that got us back into the game."
The Knicks led 65-41 at halftime, riding a second-quarter blitz that included 11 points from Smith and nine from Anthony. After a tight first period, the Knicks outscored the Magic 36-14 in the second quarter.
The Magic outscored the Knicks 35-19 in the third and 22-19 in the fourth, but it wasn't enough after digging such a big hold early.
The Magic led by as many seven points early when they made seven of their first eight shots. The Knicks made their first four 3-point attempts and led 29-27 after the first quarter.
Guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. scored five quick points early in the second period to start the Knicks' run. Smith followed with another five points that opened a 43-32 Knicks lead. The Magic made only four of 17 shots in that disastrous second period.
NOTES: Knicks G Raymond Felton returned to the lineup Monday for the first time since Dec. 11. Felton has been hampered by a hamstring injury since the preseason. He played in just his 17th game Monday. "I don't know if he'll ever be 100 percent (this season)," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. ... Veteran F Metta World Peace said before the game that he will undergo platelet-rich plasma therapy on his left knee Jan. 6, a procedure made popular by Kobe Bryant. World Peace already has had his knee drained twice this season, but with limited results. He missed his second consecutive game Monday. ...The Knicks came into Monday with a seven-game winning streak against the Magic, tied for their longest current winning streak against any team. ... The Magic were without G E'Twaun Moore because of a right thigh contusion, sustained last week in practice. ... Woodson said before the game that the 4-10 record at Madison Square Garden has bothered him more than any of the struggles on the road. "We just haven't been able to win at home, and it shouldn't be that way. We've got it backwards," he said. "If you're talking about winning your division -- which I still think we can -- then we've got to pick it up at home."

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