Studs and Duds: Knicks drop one at home to Orlando Magic

New York Knicks guard Miles McBride (2) dribbles against Orlando Magic guard Jalen Suggs (4) during the second half at Madison Square Garden
Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Back in MSG for a four-game home stand, it was the New York Knicks hosting the Orlando Magic. For the second consecutive game, Julius Randle’s lack of poise and tenacity hindered New York. Miles McBride continues to prove he deserves a permanent rotation spot, but his hustle plays weren’t enough as the Knicks lost 98-94 at home to Orlando

Studs: Miles McBride sets a career-high 

Without future All-Star Jalen Brunson, Miles McBride has filled the starting role tremendously. What’s been apparent with a young McBride is his lack of consistent playmaking ability, but his scoring is off the charts. Expect to see him sharing the floor with Brunson in the future as a two-guard getting easy looks distributed to him from the attention had by Brunson and Randle.

Over the last two games, McBride is averaging 19.5 points on 58.5% from the field. A player comparison of McBride would be a younger Jordan Poole in Golden State. With a duffle bag of scoring and counters from McBride, he will mesh well with the playmaking abilities of Brunson. 

Studs: OG Anunoby growing comfortable 

Joining the Knicks to start the calendar year, OG Anunoby wanted an extended offensive role on this team. The presence of Randle and Brunson currently makes that request concerning, but the natural progression from Anunoby bodes well for his future production on the Knicks.

Over the last four games, Anunoby is averaging 17 points on 12 attempts per contest. With low usage, precise dribbles, and timely cuts to the rim, Anunoby’s presence on the floor elevates the Knicks on both sides of the ball. The ability to play good defense from one to five creates a high energy that becomes contagious among teammates. With no wasted motions in Anunoby’s game, the Knicks will benefit even more from him offensively soon. 

Duds: Julius Randle needs Jalen Brunson 

Julius Randle’s performances over the last two games have been subpar. The former All-NBA forward has looked anything but after scoring 15 points on 27.8% from the field against the Orlando Magic. Randle gets much criticism from ‘body language experts’ on social media, and following this performance, deservedly so.

Walking up the floor in the fourth quarter with no sense of urgency, Randle scored two points in the final seven minutes while missing two crucial free throws in a four-point loss to Orlando. This level of play from Randle was a charlatan effort that the Knicks must hold to higher standards or part ways within due time.

There were reports that the Knicks are open to trading Julius Randle, but expect New York to move draft capital as well to entice the front office of a disgruntled star. 

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Duds: No Brunson, big problem 

The Knicks have a highly skilled rotation with high IQs to match, but missing Brunson shows how important he is to this team. Sitting out back-to-back games with a left calf contusion, the missing sense of urgency from his costar has never been more evident. A much-deserved break for Brunson, but the lack of dexterity from New York in his absence indicates the Knicks should be on the lookout for added shot-creators. 

Takeaways from the New York Knicks’ loss to the Orlando Magic

Looking ahead, the New York Knicks play six of their next eight games at home. Donte DiVincenzo and Isaiah Hartenstein continue to play tremendously, as they will be pivotal in the upcoming stretch. Now is the perfect time for a winning streak to remain in the conversation of “best teams in the Eastern Conference.”

Losing a very winnable game against the Orlando Magic will raise antennas across the association, and discussions will resume to make this Knicks team even better before the trade deadline. On Wednesday, the Knicks are hosting Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets, a formidable foe in the Western conference looking to make a name for themselves.