Burke leads Knicks past Magic to end 8-game losing streak
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By DICK SCANLON
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The New York Knicks got a season-high 26 points from Trey Burke and put up 120 playing without their All-Star.
Yet all they talked about was defense after breaking an eight-game losing streak with a 120-113 victory over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night.
"Our defense was pretty much the reason we won," said Burke, who came off the bench to hit 12 of 22 shots. "A lot of people look at the offensive end, but defense allowed our offense to get some good looks."
Evan Fournier scored 25 points for the Magic, who lost their fourth straight.
"We finally guarded somebody," said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, who gave much of the credit to Burke.
"I know Trey can put the ball in the hole and he can get hot," Hornacek added. "He controls the pace, he's a guy that can get things going. But defensively I thought he was the key. .. Trey was great on both sides of the court."
The first game after the All-Star break for both teams marked the first Knicks start for guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was acquired from Denver in a three-team trade on Feb. 8. It also marked the returns from injury for center Nikola Vucevic and forward Aaron Gordon of the Magic. Vucevic finished with 19 points and six rebounds.
The Magic made 11 of their first 12 shots, including all five 3-pointers, on their way to a 41-point first quarter and a 10-point lead. Orlando shot 61 percent in the first half.
"The first half, offensively, was as good as we've played all year," said Orlando coach Frank Vogel.
The second half, not so much.
"We didn't get the stops at all, and we just stopped executing in the fourth quarter offensive and defensively," Fournier said. "That's how we lost the game. Bad execution. No movement at all. We were all kind of watching each other, and the momentum shifted."
Orlando led 76-65 early in the second half, a lead that disappeared quickly when Enes Kanter scored three baskets a 12-0 run that put the Knicks ahead for the first time since the middle of the first quarter.
A layup by Lance Thomas with 9:24 left put the Knicks ahead permanently and launched an 18-6 run that produced a 113-102 lead with 3:39 left.
Magic: Rookie F Isaac Austin, who has not played since Dec. 26 due to a sore right ankle, will play in a NBA G League game Friday night. ... Vucevic had missed 23 games with a fractured left hand. ... Gordon had missed nine games (and the All-Star Slam Dunk contest) with a strained left hip flexor.
"The defense was bad, really bad in the first quarter," Kanter said. "Coach came into the locker room and said one thing: `We are not going to watch any film. Just go out there and get loose and start the second half with energy.' We have enough guys to shoot and score the ball. The most important for us right now is defense."
NO MORE MR. NICE GUY
"I get criticized for not playing defense. I have accepted that in the past. I'm not accepting it now," Burke said. "I know I'm quick enough to play defense, I have the mentality to play defense and I know I can be a pest on the ball."
Knicks: Host Boston on Saturday night.
Magic: At Philadelphia on Monday night.
Updated February 22, 2018