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Magic, Knicks go opposite directions since last meeting

Sports Xchange
18 Nov 2018, 13:54 GMT+10

A week ago in Madison Square Garden, the Orlando Magic scored the first 10 points, led by 20 after the first quarter, by as many as 34 and rolled past the New York Knicks for their most lopsided win of the season.

The venue will be different this time when Orlando hosts New York on Sunday and so is the direction of the teams.

Orlando is 6-2 in its last eight games since it absorbed a 120-95 home loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Nov. 2. The Magic won their second straight Saturday night when they shot a season-high 53.8 percent in a 130-117 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Nikola Vucevic scored a season-high 36 points and has 66 points in his last two games. He was 15 of 23 Saturday, is shooting 56.8 percent (25 of 44) in his last two games and is the first Orlando player with 30 points in consecutive games since Victor Oladipo on March 4-6, 2015.

"It's a lot of fun," Vucevic said to Fox Sports Orlando in his on-court interview. "It's great that we're playing better, we're improving. We just got to .500, so it's not like we've done anything great yet, but we're improving. There's positive things going on. So we just have to keep it up."

During Orlando's last eight games, it is averaging 112.1 points while shooting 48.7. When the Magic started with six losses in eight games, they averaged 99.9 points on 41.4 percent shooting.

"We're just getting better every day," point guard D.J. Augustin said to Fox Sports Orlando after contributing 22 points Saturday. "If it's practice, if it's shootaround, we're taking everything seriously."

Aaron Gordon played through a sprained left ankle and had 12 points. It's possible he sits out again after also not playing last Sunday in New York.

The Magic will be trying to get above .500 for the first time since winning their season opener and for the first time through 17 games since the 2015-16 campaign.

New York's 115-89 loss to Orlando is a part of its 4-12 start and the second loss during a four-game skid. The first three losses were by double digits and the most recent defeat was a 129-124 setback Friday night in New Orleans.

In the Knicks' most recent loss, they led by 16 points after the opening quarter only to wilt in the final minutes. New York was up 114-103 after a dunk by Tim Hardaway Jr. with 6:53 left and wound up getting outscored 26-10 the rest of the way while allowing Anthony Davis to finish with 43 points.

Hardaway scored 30 points and produced his fourth game with at least 30. He also is the most experienced member of New York's starting five as rookies Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, and Allonzo Trier started along with third-year guard Emmanuel Mudiay.

"I just wanted to keep an open mind to everything and see how it plays out," Knicks coach David Fizdale said. "All of these guys to credit have really shown some great moments in the NBA. So I figured why not look at them all together out there with Timmy and with our best passer and see how that looks if they're moving up and down the court fast."

Trey Burke added 24 points for the Knicks but was more frustrated with New York's fifth single-digit loss so far.

"I think when guys put their heads down and when a team goes on a run, we see that a lot on our team," Burke said. "A team hits a shot or two shots, we put our heads down. It's not time to put our heads down. We got to get the ball out and go back at them while they're celebrating."

The Knicks are in their second four-game skid of the season. During the current slide, they are allowing 125 points per game.

In last week's meeting with the Magic, the Knicks started Damyean Dotson, Noah Vonleh and Frank Ntilikina, but that trio combined for nine points on 4-of-13 shooting and were replaced for Wednesday's 128-103 loss at Oklahoma City.

Including last week's rout in New York, Orlando has won four of the last five meetings.

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