New York Knicks: Who stepped up in loss to Magic?

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New York Knicks Tim Hardaway Jr. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Knicks lost another game to the Orlando Magic, but players still stepped up along the way.

For the second consecutive Sunday, the New York Knicks dropped a game to the Orlando Magic. Not as distant as the Veteran’s Day game, but they still lost, 131-117. It also marked their fifth straight defeat.

The Magic started red-hot from the field, including 17 points in five minutes from Aaron Gordon. They cooled off, and the Knicks came back, but a late-game run from head coach Steve Clifford’s team ended the attempt.

It was the latest game New York gave up over 128 points in. This started taking off when Emmanuel Mudiay and Kevin Knox entered the lineup for Noah Vonleh and Frank Ntilikina.

Despite this, some players still performed well in this latest road loss. Who tried to make the Knicks competitive?

Tim Hardaway Jr.

Stat Line: 32 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 3 steals, 9-for-20 shooting, 5-for-10 on three-pointers, 9-for-10 on free throws

In spite of the struggles, Tim Hardaway Jr. remains the only constant for the New York Knicks. He has scored fewer than 20 points just three times in 17 games and topped 30 points five times, including Sunday’s game.

Hardaway’s stellar second and third quarters brought him 32 points. He scored nine in the second period in just six minutes — contributing to the one-point deficit at halftime.

By the fourth quarter, Hardaway went cold. He hit just one shot, as the Magic scored 33 points to move past the Knicks.

The 26-year-old’s game slides back and forth in-game, and he often judges how good or bad the Knicks play; two of his 30-point games were in New York’s wins, which totals four.

Hardaway’s defensive issues were on display, though. One of his assignments, Evan Fournier, went 7-for-10 from the field for 19 points and six assists. Paul George previously attacked him for 35 points.

Defense comes with Hardaway’s offensive output, which the Knicks need sans any dynamic scorers. Though, it means head coach David Fizdale has to work around it, even as he mixes and matches lineups that lean towards one side of the equation or the other.

Hardaway’s next matchup is either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers. Neither option presents a positive scenario, but it’s another challenge to see if he can live up to it.

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