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After losing three straight — and allowing 115 points or more in each game — and five of their last six, the New York Knicks welcome one of the worst offenses in the league to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night as the Orlando Magic bring their 21st-ranked offense to town.
The once-flying-Magic — who opened the season with seven straight games of 113 or more points in a 5-2 start — have hit that number just once in the last month as they’ve gone 3-11.
The Knicks appear to be catching the offensively challenged Magic at just the right time, too: Orlando has scored 170 total points in its last two games, a 90-82 loss to Chicago and a 94-88 loss at Atlanta.
That 170-point two-game total is the team’s second-worst of the season, coming just two weeks after their worst skid, when they scored 169 points in losses to Boston and Toronto.
That was against the top two teams in the Eastern Conference. The team’s current slide has happened to the likes of Chicago and Atlanta, two of the three other teams vying for the worst record in the conference.
“Our offense, obviously, hasn’t been at its best lately,” said Orlando center and third-leading scorer Nikola Vucevic, after the team’s 111-104 loss to the Brooklyn Nets last Thursday. “We are missing some guys that are a big part of our offense. We’ve just got to find our rhythm back.”
The Knicks’ defense, of course, needs all the help it can get.
New York is coming off a 115-109 home loss to the Detroit Pistons on Saturday, a day in which all five Pistons starters scored in double-figures, led by Andre Drummond’s 22 points. The Knicks had little to counter with, despite a game-high 32 points from Michael Beasley.
“The defensive intensity, I thought, dropped right there,” Jeff Hornacek said of a third-quarter 11-0 run that put Detroit up four. “They made a couple shots, but then it was making adjustments when the guys were coming in when they shouldn’t. That happened a couple times late in the game. They had good intentions to help but that was probably not the right time to help and they got a couple kick-out threes.”
That loss, together with a 118-101 loss at Philadelphia on Wednesday and a 137-128 overtime loss at Charlotte on Monday, mark the third time this season that New York has allowed 370 or more points in a three-game stretch.
After the matchup, the Knicks remain at Madison Garden for three more games — Friday against the Miami Heat, Saturday against the Milwaukee Bucks, Monday against the Cleveland Cavaliers — before traveling to Cleveland for their final game of the season.
The Magic return home in a hurry for their last home stand of the season, with the Dallas Mavericks in town on Wednesday and the Charlotte Hornets visiting on Friday. Orlando then heads on the road for two before heading back home next Wednesday against the Washington Wizards.