Wagner, Banchero help Magic beat Knicks
Jalen Suggs had 21 points and six assists before a franchise-record home crowd of 19,587.
Julius Randle had 38 points, 12 rebounds and six assists for the Knicks, who finally got some shots to fall in a frantic fourth-quarter comeback attempt.
“It was a tough back-and-forth game at the end," New York forward RJ Barrett said. “I think we adjusted well in the second half, but we’ve got to start better.”
Jalen Brunson had 20 points and eight assists for the Knicks and made all 12 of his free throws. The problem, according to Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau, is that he should have had more attempts.
“What this guy is going through is ridiculous,” Thibodeau said. “He gets hammered time and time again and I’m sick and tired of it. No one drives the ball more to the rim than this guy does, and if you rake across his arm and hit him on the head, those are fouls.”
Brunson refused to discuss calls or non-calls.
“The shots weren’t falling, but with that being said it was a winnable game,” he said.
The Magic gave most of the credit for Brunson's 4-for-15 shooting to rookie guard Anthony Black.
“He’s a special individual who knows how to play defense and guard the right way,” Magic coach Jamahl Mosley said. "I think he did a heck of a job on Jalen Brunson.”
Banchero's task of guarding he 6-foot-9, 253-pound Randle was more physically formidable.
“He’s a freight train.” said the 6-10, 250-pound Banchero. "At the same time he can make tough shots so it was a great challenge, but I wanted to accept the challenge.”
Both teams struggled from 3-point range, with New York shooting 6 for 30 and Orlando 7 for 33.
The Knicks missed 13 of their first 15 shots in the second quarter while committing five turnovers. Wagner and Banchero led the Magic on an 18-4 run, and Wagner finished the first half with a layup to put Orlando up 55-44.
A layup by Banchero pushed the Magic's lead to 20 midway through the third quarter, and that proved to be just out of reach for the Knicks.
“The second quarter was a problem and our rebounding wasn’t good enough,” Thibodeau said. “We had a chance at the end but we couldn’t get a stop when we needed it.”
Randle, Barrett and Brunson led a charge that got the Knicks within five in the closing minute, but Suggs sealed it with a 12-foot jumper and a dunk.
“You know they're going to make some sort of run at the end,” Banchero said. “You just want to be able to withstand it and close the game out.”
The Knicks came into the game leading the NBA in total rebound percentage, but were outrebounded 49-40.
Knicks: At Indiana on Saturday night.
Magic: At Phoenix on Sunday.
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