Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Will Dwight Howard and Magic Overpower Knicks Again?
The last time the Knicks and Magic met, on a night in late February in Orlando, the Knicks were hopeful that a win that night could be a start of something special as the team looked to capitalize on the recent acquisitions of Carmelo Anthony, Chauncey Billups, and company.
However, Dwight Howard muscled his way past the Knicks' big men and had 30 points and 16 rebounds in a win over the Knicks. Though the Magic trailed by double-digits at halftime, they, like many other teams down the stretch, brought more to the table than the Knicks in the final minute.
That being said, a loss wasn't the only blow Howard delivered to the Knicks that night. As Billups ran into (and tried to get past) a Howard screen, he offered a deep thigh bruise and was out multiple games. Though Toney Douglas played well in his absence, the missed games cost the Knicks crucial time of which they could have been using to acclimate themselves and build stronger chemistry.
Instead, the Knicks now stand at 7-8 since the big trade that was expected to give the Knicks an extraordinary lift.
Though the struggles may be in part due to lack of chemistry at this point, much of it also has to due with the lack of defensive intensity and killer instinct down the stretch. With the greatest Knick of all time, Patrick Ewing (now an assistant coach for the Magic), once again revisiting the Garden tonight, fans are reminded of those 1990s Knicks squads that thrived on their defense, even reaching the NBA finals in 1994. Those teams, whether it was entirely due to their defense or not, always knew how to win and put away an opponent.
In any event, while one may be hesitant to say this (given the Knicks nature to give up late game leads), a key to the guys in orange and blue coming away with a victory tonight will be getting out in front early, and forcing the Magic to keep up with their pace. If the Knicks can outrun and exhaust them, they'll have a good chance at sustaining the lead and coming out victorious.
However, if the Knicks allow the Magic to control the game and constantly run the offense through Howard, getting him into enough of a groove, their feeble defensive efforts against Howard in the past could come back to haunt them.
Perhaps having such a legend in Ewing in the building tonight, given his success and his legacy, will inspire a victory.
Knicks fans: If you're interested in meeting Knicks point guard and a past NBA champion in Chauncey Billups Thursday night, all you need to do for a chance to win is "like" the Steiner Sports Facebook page and write on their wall that you were sent by Knicks Journal! It's that simple! A winner will be selected later tonight.