NEW YORK (AP) — Nikola Vucevic tied his season high with 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds, leading the Orlando Magic to a 107-99 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
Vucevic had a pair of baskets and Evan Fournier added a 3-pointer and another basket in an 11-2 spurt after the Knicks had cut it to 93-92 with 3:25 left. Victor Oladipo finished that decisive run with a breakaway dunk that made it 104-94 with 1:07 to go.
Tobias Harris scored 20 points and Fournier had 16 for the Magic, who rebounded from Sunday’s loss to Atlanta to win for the fourth time in five games.
Lance Thomas was 9 for 9 and tied his career with 24 points for the Knicks, who had won four in a row and missed a chance to move above .500. Carmelo Anthony scored 23 points.
Starting guard Elfrid Payton didn’t play in the second half because of a sore left ankle, but Fournier handled the ball more and Oladipo and rookie Mario Hezonja finished in double figures off the bench as Orlando shot 51 percent from the field.
The game was close all the way, with the Knicks never leading but never trailing by more than eight until the Magic’s late run. New York was repeatedly within a basket of tying or taking the lead in the fourth, but Vucevic and the Magic kept coming up with timely plays.
Magic: A night later, coach Scott Skiles was still hard on the Magic’s defensive effort in their 103-100 loss to Atlanta on Sunday. “I said laughable after the game, so I’m going to stick by that,” Skiles said. “It was.” … The Magic pledged $1.5 million Monday toward a new academic building for the University of Central Florida’s downtown Orlando campus.
Knicks: Reserve forward Kyle O'Quinn missed the game against his former team with a sprained right ankle. He was hurt Saturday against Chicago and coach Derek Fisher said he was better but still had some swelling. “Obviously with it being his former team, those are nights that guys circle on the calendar, so that tells you a lot about where he is today,” Fisher said.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver works at the pleasure of the NBA owners. He is their employee.
Not that it ever stopped David Stern from telling an owner what to do, but Silver is a little more subtle than that. He plants ideas; he wants the owner to think it was his idea to do what Silver ultimately wanted him to do in the first place. For example, hire Jerry Colangelo to put a new face — and maybe speed up the turn around process — in Philadelphia.
Silver was on FiveThirtyEight’s “Hot Takedown” podcast and talked about how he didn’t like the Sixers’ rebuilding plan under GM Sam Hinkie, but he couldn’t force a change.
Q: Are you personally, as the commissioner, OK with the way that the 76ers have run their franchise the past three seasons?
Silver: “I don’t want to answer that directly, There’s a marketplace of ideas and approaches that go into managing a franchise. For me, if a franchise is managed within the rules of the league, it’s acceptable to me. I don’t think I should be browbeating owners and saying this is how I think you should manage your team. And they got unlucky as well — if Joel Embiid were healthy or on the floor, we may be having a very different discussion. On the other hand, because of the strategy they were following, there was an extremely small margin for error. So it’s a combination of their strategy and of bad luck. But bad luck is something that has to be factored in as well.
“Am I fan of that strategy? Put it this way: No. But does that mean that it’s not acceptable under the league rules? It is, and it’s partly why I had proposed to change the odds of the draft lottery.”
Enough owners voted against that change so it didn’t happen.
Silver goes on to say that there are a lot of ways to get owners to consider changes, like the “resetting” of strategy in Philly. Even though we know bringing in Colangelo (and the subsequent hiring of Mike D’Antoni as an assistant coach) is more about optics than reality. Colangelo isn’t stupid; he’s not getting rid of all the high picks they have coming up.
If the Sixers get lucky in the lottery and land Ben Simmons in the draft, get Embiid healthy, and get Dario Saric to come over from Europe, then in a couple of seasons look like a real up-and-coming threat, that is all thanks to Hinkie and not Colangelo. But we’ll discuss that if and when it happens.
At the press conference the night Kobe Bryant made it official and said he would not play another NBA season, he was asked about maybe playing another season in Italy. Kobe answered in Italian (he’s fluent) and said, in so many words, no. Which echoed what he had said even before the formal announcement.
That has not changed. No matter what Stephon Marbury may want, Kobe Bryant says he is not playing a season overseas after this one. Via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.
Kobe appears at peace with his decision to retire, which was the most striking thing about his press conference. Here is a guy who has seen every obstacle — ones real and imagined — as something that must be conquered. To admit that Father Time has won the race, that all the effort he puts in does not reflect on the court anymore has got to be hard for him. But he’s accepted it.
And he’s not going to put his body through that for a season overseas.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers are without leading scorers Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum for their game at Atlanta.
Lillard has plantar fasciitis in his left foot. McCollum has two sprained ankles. Lillard says he has been playing with a sore foot for a few weeks.
The injury ends Lillard’s streak of playing in 275 consecutive games – every game of his career.
There is no timetable for either guard to return.
Lillard leads Portland and is tied for seventh in the NBA with his average of 24.6 points per game. McCollum is averaging 20.1 points.
Tim Frazier and Allen Crabbe are expected to be the fill-in starters in Portland’s backcourt on Monday night.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal, Allen Iverson and Yao Ming are among the first-time candidates on the ballot for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and former women’s star Sheryl Swoopes are also among the candidates announced Monday for the class of 2016. The finalists will be announced on Feb. 12 during the NBA’s All-Star weekend, and those being enshrined will be unveiled April 4 in Houston before the NCAA championship game.
O’Neal and Yao became eligible last week when the Hall amended its eligibility procedures, making players eligible after four full seasons of retirement. It was previously five years, which meant they were six years removed from their playing careers when they were enshrined.
The full list of candidates is available at http://www.hoophall.com