Terrence Ross outscored the entire New York Knicks‘ bench as the Orlando Magic rolled to a convincing 107-89 victory on Wednesday night.
Ross fired 18 of his season-high 30 points, presiding over Magic’s breakaway from a tight first half.
The Knicks shot 54 percent in the opening half and led by as many as 11 behind Julius Randle’s 17 points. But the Magic tightened their defense and started packing the paint.
“It was really the second quarter. Normally, our bench is a big plus for us, and we lost an 11-point quickly. We didn’t challenge shots the way we should have, and they got going,” Thibodeau said.
The spark Derrick Rose and Immanuel Quickley usually provided off the bench went missing. The duo typified the Knicks’ offensive woes, shooting a combined 2-for-22 from the field.
If there is one man in the NBA who can figure out Tom Thibodeau, it’s Magic’s coach Steve Clifford. Both coaches spent years together from the Knicks to the Houston Rockets as assistant coaches under Jeff Van Gundy.
Orlando outscored New York, 30-14, in the third quarter and turned a 53-56 halftime deficit into a 13-point lead.
Led by Ross, who was all over the court with six rebounds, four assists, two steals, and two blocks, the Magic’s bench outscored their Knicks’ counterpart, 42-26.
The loss snapped the Knicks’ three-game winning streak and prevented them from reaching .500. They fell to 14-16 with six games left before the All-Star break.
The Knicks’ offense turned stagnant as they ran into a maze of errors and forced shots. The Magic’s defense held the Knicks to only 26 percent from the field and six assists in the second half.
Randle outplayed Nikola Vucevic in a battle of All-Star candidates but drew little help.
Vucevic got his usual double-double (16 points, 16 rebounds, and five assists) but only shot 8-for-24 from the field.
Randle picked up from where he left off and dropped 13 points in the opening quarter as the Knicks seized a 30-19 lead. Then the Magic zeroed in on him on defense.
Despite that, Randle still came away with 25 points on 11-of-19 field goals, seven rebounds, and three assists.
RJ Barrett and Elfrid Payton were the only other Knicks in double figures with 15 and 13 points, respectively. But they spent most of the fourth quarter on the bench.
“We’re such in a hole, and you want to find a way out. Those guys (second unit) started to make a run, and so that’s basically it,” Thibodeau explained.
A back-to-back three-pointer from Alec Burks brought the Knicks within 10.
But it proved to be their last gallant stand.
Ross, Evan Fournier, and Vucevic put the game away with a 7-0 answer.
The Knicks will have three days to recover.
Thibodeau will face his old team, Minnesota Timberwolves, for the first time since his unceremonious firing in 2019.
The Knicks, though, earned an extra day of rest after their Saturday matinee game against the San Antonio Spurs was postponed after four Spurs tested positive for COVID-19.
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