ORLANDO -- The New York Knicks really didn't look like the NBA's only unbeaten team -- until it really mattered.
After coasting through much of the first three quarters, with the lead bounced back and forth, the Knicks suddenly turned serious in a dominating fourth. They roared to a 99-89 victory over the hapless Orlando Magic.
The Knicks (5-0) are off to their best start since 1993, when they won their first seven games. The Magic (2-5) lost its fifth consecutive game.
Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points to lead the Knicks. Raymond Felton and J.R. Smith added 21 apiece.
"We bucked down on our defense and slowed them down," Anthony said. "My focus level now is really high. I know what I want for myself and this team. It starts with me to lead us on both ends of the floor. It is carrying over to everyone else."
It was the fifth consecutive game in which the Knicks allowed fewer than 40 points in the second half.
"That just tells me our defense is right where it needs to be," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "So when we do have to get stops, we were able to get it done."
The Magic had seven players score in double figures, led by J.J. Redick, who finished with 18.
Orlando played well for three quarters -- moved the ball crisply, shot the ball well -- but it wilted badly down the stretch under the Knicks' ramped-up defensive pressure.
The Magic scored just 13 points in the fourth quarter, when it committed seven turnovers and made only five of 16 shots. The Knicks made four steals in the final 12 minutes.
The Knicks came into the game as the stingiest team in the league, allowing the fewest points (87.5 per game) and the lowest opponents' shooting percentage (.407) while averaging the most steals (10.25 per game). However, they struggled to contain the Magic until they got serious at the end.
"You can't just roll the ball out and think because of their record that they may not be that good. Any team in the league can beat you," Woodson said. "They were able to force a good game until we were able to break it open at the end."
The game was tied 17 times. The lead changed hands 19 times. The Knicks took the lead for good four minutes into the fourth when 19-year-old Magic rookie Maurice Harkless traveled and Knicks veteran Jason Kidd -- who is 20 years older than Harkless -- responded with a 3-point basket.
The quick turnaround was a snapshot of the game.
"We didn't finish the game. Being young isn't an excuse you can use," said Magic forward Glen Davis, who had 10 points and six rebounds. "We've got to learn and get it now, before we're 2-10. I've never been on a 2-10 team."
The Knicks, who trailed 53-49 at halftime, led 77-76 going into the final period. Smith scored 12 points in the third quarter to spark the Knicks and set up the final push.
Knicks center/forward Rasheed Wallace missed all five of his 3-point attempts in his 15 minutes.
The Magic spent much of the fourth quarter with two rookies (Harkless and Andrew Nicholson) on the court against the veteran-loaded Knicks.
"You have to want to win more, plain and simple," Magic forward Arron Afflalo said. "The same thing we did to get the lead, we have to keep doing. It's not about schemes or execution. You have to want it more."
Early on, Orlando rode a surprising start from unheralded reserve Harkless, who had 10 points and five rebounds in 12 first-half minutes. Harkless, who was averaging just 2.3 points this season, gave the Magic a spark with his hustle in the second quarter.
The Knicks led by as many as 10 points early in the second period. Anthony has 16 points before halftime, but he also got his third technical foul of the season for badgering an official on back-to-back calls.
The Magic dominated around the basket early, holding a 25-16 rebounding edge and a 34-20 points-in-the-paint advantage at intermission. Orlando finished the night with a 42-31 rebounding edge.
NOTES: The Magic entered the night with the league's worst offense, averaging only 87.8 points per game. ... The game was delayed for eight minutes between the first and second quarters when a woman on the Magic stunt team, performing at center court, took a hard fall on her head and neck. She had to be carried off on a stretcher. ... Before this season, the Knicks had not started a season with four consecutive victories since 1993. ... Magic coach Jacque Vaughn is not only the youngest coach in the league at age 37, but he also is younger than four players on the Knicks' roster. He was teammates with three of them, Kurt Thomas, Wallace and Kidd. He never played with Marcus Camby, who also is older than him. ... Magic point guard Jameer Nelson, who is recovering from hamstring and groin injuries, missed his sixth consecutive game. "I'm sure he thinks he's ready to play, but I want him for the whole season, so we're just being careful," Vaughn said. ... The Knicks play Thursday night in San Antonio, where they have lost nine consecutive games to the Spurs. ... The Anthony/Afflalo matchup at forward was interesting because they were teammates in Denver just two seasons ago.