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11/13/2012 11:45 PM EST
Knicks hold off Magic 99-89 to improve to 5-0
NEW YORK 99, ORLANDO 89

By KYLE HIGHTOWER
Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- In their first four games, the New York
Knicks surprised many by consistently performing above preseason
expectations and jumping out to an unbeaten start.



Another night and another victory later, the Knicks' breakout
beginning doesn't seem to have an end in sight.



Carmelo Anthony scored 25 points, J. R. Smith and Raymond Felton
each added 21, and the New York Knicks held off the Orlando
Magic 99-89 Tuesday night to improve to 5-0.



The victory extended New York's NBA-best start. The Knicks have
won their first five games for the first time since opening the
1993-94 season 7-0 on their way to the NBA finals. The Knicks
remain the league's only unbeaten team.



"Defense, we buckled down," Anthony said. "We kind of slowed
them down, kept them off the glass rebounding. Once we had a
chance to rebound the basketball, get out and make some shots,
we didn't turn back from there."



J.J. Redick scored 18 points and Arron Afflalo added 13 for the
Magic, who were stunted by 20 turnovers that led to 24 New York
points. Orlando dropped its fifth consecutive game and continues
to struggle without starters Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu.



"You have to want to win more, simple as that," Afflalo said.
"There's not one man on this team that's going to do it, (we)
pretty much have to want it more."



New York coach Mike Woodson has made no secret of the fact that
for the Knicks to continue their recent output long-term,
keeping his older team well-rested will be a necessity.



A three-day rest following their dominating win over Dallas on
Friday was perfect timing for a Knicks squad that played its
first three games in just four nights.



It showed against and Orlando team whose younger players were
fearless attacking New York early on.



But so much youth on the floor also gave way to some careless
mistakes late in the second half. Orlando pulled to 82-80 before
the Knicks went on a 13-4 spurt to take a 95-84 lead with 2:36
to play and put the game away.



New York led by just a point at the break, Knicks coach Mike
Woodson said that kind of effort wasn't there early.



"We weren't playing hard enough," Woodson said. "You can't just
roll the ball out and think because their record indicates that
they may not be good or they're struggling as a team - any team
can beat you in this league ... We got a few stops, and scored a
bucket and we were able to secure the win. But it was a tough
victory tonight."



The Knicks will have another break from game action Wednesday
before playing at San Antonio Thursday night.



Despite not scoring more than 75 points in none of their
previous three losses, the Magic kept pace with the Knicks - who
came in as one of the league's top scoring teams.



The Magic's younger players were right in the middle of the
action, with rookies Maurice Harkless and Andrew Nicholson
knocking down several big shots and making key defensive plays
in the third quarter as the Knicks inched back in front and took
a one-point lead into the final period.



The Knicks traded the lead with the Magic at the start of the
fourth, with Orlando continually able to slip inside the paint.



But along with Anthony's big night, the Knicks were also able to
sustain the Magic's efforts as Smith continued his hot streak
from the 3-point line, connecting on both of his attempts. He is
13 of 18 overall for the season from behind the arc.



Even with the loss, Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said there still
some positives for a team that piecing together lineups at the
moment.



"We can't afford to make mistakes, but for me at the end of this
game I was pretty proud of our guys and their effort tonight,"
Vaughn said. "That's a good ball club on both ends of the floor
and we made them earn a win tonight."



Trailing 35-25 midway through the second quarter, the Magic used
a 16-4 run to move ahead 41-39. Orlando carried that momentum
into as 53-49 halftime lead.



In his fourth game of the season since returning to action from
offseason sports hernia surgery, Harkless provided a lift off
the bench with 10 points in the half.



It helped offset another big scoring half by Anthony, who topped
the Knicks with 16 first-half points.



The Magic also outrebounded the Knicks 25-16 in the opening 24
minutes, while getting 34 points in the paint against a larger
Knicks front court.



Orlando maintained its edge on the boards but didn't get nearly
as many second-chance opportunities in the second half.



Smith said the Knicks are enjoying where they're at right now.



"It's great. It's a great feeling," he said. "We want to keep it
going. So we can't get too lackadaisical like we did in that
first half."



Notes: Nelson missed his sixth straight game with a strained
right hamstring and groin. ...The game was stopped for about 10
minutes between the first and second quarter after Jamie Woode,
a former college cheerleader and Magic Stunt Team member, fell
during a routine and was wheeled off the floor on a stretcher.
She was transferred to a nearby hospital where she was breathing
on her own and moving her extremities, according to paramedics
who attended to her.



---



Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/khightower.

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