NEW YORK — This was the fourth quarter the Orlando Magic needed a night earlier, and it sure helped that Carmelo Anthony had to watch a key part of it.
Evan Fournier scored a career-high 28 points, and the Magic bounced back from a poor finish with a good one, handing the New York Knicks a sixth straight loss with a 97-95 victory Nov. 12.
Nikola Vucevic added 20 points and 13 rebounds for the Magic, who led by 11 points after three quarters in Toronto on Nov. 11, only to lose 104-100. This time, they trailed 85-84 midway through the final period before taking control.
“We got an immediate test after being in a tight game from the night before. We were able to close out the game tonight. A great job by a lot of guys tonight,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said.
Anthony scored 27 points for the Knicks, who were held to 19 in the fourth quarter and still haven’t reached 100 this season. But he picked up a fifth foul and went to the bench with 5:41 to play, and the Knicks were shut out during the 2 minutes he sat as the Magic extended their lead.
“Losing is tough. I thought this was a game we could have went out there and gotten tonight, kind of get that monkey off our back. So this is a tough one to swallow,” Anthony said.
Vucevic’s basket had just given Orlando an 86-85 lead when Anthony went out. Luke Ridnour made one of the free throws on Anthony’s foul, then Fournier was credited with a basket on a goaltending call with 4:27 left to cap a run of five straight points and give Orlando an 89-85 lead.
The French guard later added another free throw during an 8-2 run that made it 92-87, as the Knicks had just one basket in 4 1/2 minutes.
“We showed a lot of good things, especially defensively,” Fournier said. “Put in a lot of energy. I’m just proud. It shows we are a good team.”
The Knicks had a chance after Anthony made a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds to cut it to 96-95. Fournier missed the second of two free throws with 3.8 to go, but J.R. Smith was nowhere close on a potential winning 3-point attempt.
Coach Derek Fisher said he didn’t draw up a play looking for a 3-pointer, only that there were multiple options and that Smith trusted himself to take the shot. Smith finished with 19 points.
Orlando snapped a four-game losing streak in New York.
“Of course to come in back-to-back after a tough loss says a lot about this team,” Vucevic said. “We stuck together and we didn’t just give up.”
The Magic scored the final seven points of the first quarter to take a 31-27 lead. They had another 7-0 spurt to finish the first half and take a 56-50 advantage to the locker room.
(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)