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Post Game Reactions: Orlando Magic Welcome Elfrid Payton Back With A Win Over The New York Knicks

Orlando Magic , New York Knicks , Elfrid Payton , The Oliver's Twist

The Orlando Magic found their offense Wednesday night against the visiting New York Knicks. Losers of two in a row, the Orlando Magic of old returned and continued their strong team effort play defeating the Knicks 112-99.

The New York Knicks (6-5) were expecting to have Kristaps Porzingis on their trip to Florida. The Orlando Magic (7-4) were hoping but not expecting to have point guard Elfrid Payton. Both received unexpected surprises.

A little over an hour before game time, New York revealed Porzingis would not play due to a right ankle sprain and right elbow contusion. Around the same time, the Orlando Magic announced Elfrid Payton would return from his eight game absence due to a nagging hamstring injury.

The Return of Elfrid Payton

The Magic offense showed why Elfrid Payton was so valuable to what they want to do this season. Payton consistently pushed the ball in transition and found the open man either cutting to the rim or spot up for an open three. On the opening play of the game, Payton found Aaron Gordon for an easy open alley-oop connection. A few plays later, he found an open Evan Fournier in the corner for a three. After the game, Payton stated that was his purpose. “That’s what I’m here for, to make everybody job as easy as possible”. Payton finished with 11 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds on the night.

Offensive Flow and Tempo

The Orlando Magic ended the game with 30 assists on 46 made baskets. It was apparent the Magic needed Elfrid Payton back for the offense to find fluidity once again. The Magic converted on 54 percent of their shot attempts and shot a sizzling 46 percent from three.

They seemed to have returned to their old selves as everyone contributed in a Magic win. The Magic had three players score 20 points or more and stayed true to their playing style of pushing the tempo every chance possible. Speaking to Evan Fournier after the game, he reiterated the importance of having Payton back for the offense. “It definitely feels better. We only had one point guard for two games, and we lost those games by 20. Again, that’s not a coincidence.” Fournier tallied 23 points for the Magic.

Center Nikola Vucevic led the Magic in scoring with 24 points and forward Aaron Gordon added 21 points, including going 4-6 from three.

Defensive Tenacity

On the defensive end, Orlando kept their hands active. The Magic forced the Knicks into 23 turnovers and several key blocks down the stretch. Orlando played smothering defense holding the Knicks to just 23 points in the fourth period. Forward Aaron Gordon reminded his former teammate, Kyle O’Quinn of the Magic defense with an emphatic block at the rim that created another Knicks turnover. The Magic had a season high 16 steals with Fournier responsible for creating five.

No Porzingis, Big Problem For the Knicks

The New York Knicks felt the absence of Kristaps Porzingis and his ability to create offense. Porzingis is second in scoring in the NBA at just over 30 points a game. His absence and points needed to be replicated in order for the Knicks to have a chance at pulling off the upset win in Orlando. The only Knick to step up and show some consistent scoring for the Knicks was Tim Hardaway Jr. who led the game in scoring with 26 points and 11 rebounds.

Orlando Magic , New York Knicks , Elfrid Payton , Tim Hardaway Jr. , The Oliver's Twist

Forward Michael Beasley started for Porzingis and was inefficient and ineffective finishing with four points on the night in 20 minutes of game action.

Orlando Magic Are Trending Up With Latest Win-Loss Projections

The Knicks kept pace in the game until the fourth quarter. That’s when swingman Jonathon Simmons single-handedly pushed the game out of reach for the Knicks. Simmons entered the fourth quarter and scored 11 straight points to essentially secure the Magic lead. He finished with 16 points. Vogel credits Simmons being back on the wing in Payton’s return as the reason for his effectiveness. “When we’re at our best, its with the starting unit doing what they are doing and Simmons coming in and running the show with the second unit.”

The Magic will have Thursday off as they prepare for a four game west coast trip beginning Friday night against the Phoenix Suns (4-8).

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Editor and contributor for theoliverstwist.com

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