Carmelo Anthony returned after missing three games due to a sore knee. He must have been drinking a lot of chocalate milk during the rest, because it did his body good. Melo scored 14 points in the first half and finished with 21. J.R. Smith led all scorers with 22 points.
The Knicks opened up a 15-point lead in the first quarter on the back of some hot shooting, but the Magic reeled off a 13-2 run to bring themselves within reach. After New York's defense held Orlando to 15 points in the first quarter, the Magic broke out for 31 in the second, including eight points and four assists from Beno Udrih.
He ended the night as one of three Orlando bench players to score in double-digits. Some rookie named Kyle O'Quinn finished with a dozen points and 14 boards for the game's only double-double.
After leading by only five points at halftime, the Knicks stormed out of the locker room and dominated the second half. They finished the third quarter with an 18-point advantage and coasted through the fourth quarter to victory.
If it weren't for the Knicks' hot three-point shooting, the complexion of the game might have been entirely different. Through three quarters, New York was 13-of-24 from beyond the arc. Still, this was an emphatic victory in which the Knicks bent but never broke. Orlando threatened to make it a close game at several points, but New York maintained a comfy lead for much of the game.
At 18-51 now, only the 15-win Charlotte Bobcats have a worse record. Orlando struggles mightily on defense, allowing 100.9 points per game and the fifth-most points per 100 possessions in the NBA (per ESPN). The Magic have an inexperienced roster—eight players have played less than two seasons in the NBA. They also have the league's youngest coach in Jacque Vaughn, who picked up both his first and second career technical fouls as a head coach in Orlando's Tuesday-night loss to the Indiana Pacers.
New York is now 40-26, clinging to third place in the East and a one-game advantage in the Atlantic Division over the Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks will need to finish ahead of Brooklyn, as the Nets own the tiebreaker with a much better division record (9-4 to 6-6).
Having built the smallest winning streak possible, New York will need to build on this momentum down the stretch and hope for Tyson Chandler's speedy recovery.
Now, let's take out the red pen and grade this game from front to back.