Gordon, Vucevic lead Magic as Knicks lose 5th straight
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Aaron Gordon dunked for the Orlando Magic just 20 seconds into the game, and the New York Knicks never caught up.
Gordon scored 20 of his 31 points in the first quarter and the Magic held off two New York rallies to beat the skidding Knicks 131-117 on Sunday night.
Nikola Vucevic had 28 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists for Orlando, which has won seven of nine.
The Magic shot 57 percent and set a season high for points, surpassing the 130 they put up Saturday night against the Los Angeles Lakers. It’s the first time in franchise history Orlando has scored 130 in consecutive games.
“I guess it’s just the ball movement,” said Gordon, who made 13 of 17 shots. “The ball was sticking a little bit earlier in the year, and the ball is jumping around the court. Everybody’s passing and making the right reads all over the floor.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. scored 32 for the Knicks, who lost their fifth straight. Trey Burke added 31 and Enes Kanter finished with 21 points and 19 rebounds.
Orlando made its first 10 shots (seven by Gordon) and led 28-10 when D.J. Augustin hit a 3-pointer midway through the first quarter. Gordon had 20 points when he took a seat on the bench with 3:54 left in the period.
“It’s one quarter every game,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “If you go back through all of them it’s one quarter where the doors get blown off. I can’t put my thumb on it. It’s different mistakes every game, but it’s a quarter. Somehow I’ve got to get it to where we can get 48 minutes out of this group.”
Burke and Kanter came off the bench to get the Knicks back in it quickly. Burke scored 16 points in the first half and Kanter had 14 points and 16 rebounds, including nine at the offensive end. Noah Vonleh closed the first half with a 3 to leave the Knicks down 67-66.
A layup by Gordon got Orlando’s lead back up to 12 in the third quarter, but Burke and Hardaway answered with all of New York’s points in an 11-2 run.
Jonathan Isaac’s big fourth quarter for Orlando included a block of Hardaway that led to a fast break and a dunk that left the Magic ahead 116-104 with 5:27 left.
After their first eight games, the Magic were 2-6 and last in the NBA with a .414 field goal percentage. In the nine games since, they’ve shot 49.7 percent. “Definitely our purpose of play is good,” coach Steve Clifford said. “We’re making a bunch of shots and Vucevic is just playing at an incredibly high level.”
The Knicks did not face Gordon when the teams played a week ago in New York, but they saw plenty of him in the rematch Sunday. “That was no fun,” Fizdale said. “Aaron Gordon is one of the top 1 percent of athletes in this league. The fact he’s now making his 3s, with that athleticism and his ability to put the ball on the floor, that’s a scary thought.”
Knicks: C Mitchell Robinson, who blocked nine Magic shots last Sunday, went to the bench with four fouls with 2:11 left in the second quarter. He played 75 seconds in the second half. ... F Mario Hezonga sat out a second straight game with what Fizdale described as “either a stomach flu or food poisoning.” Hezonga played three seasons in Orlando after being drafted fifth overall in 2015.
Magic: Matched a franchise record for one quarter with 44 points in the first. The mark was set against the Lakers on Feb. 8, 2008. ... Vucevic has averaged 25.5 points (on 59 percent shooting) and 11.7 rebounds in the last six games.
Knicks: Home against Portland on Tuesday night.
Magic: Home against Toronto on Tuesday night.