NEW YORK (AP) - For the Orlando Magic, playing better started with playing harder.
Frank Vogel was disgusted by the Magic’s effort in a loss at Indiana a night earlier, and the coach let them know about it Monday.
“Well it’s no fun going into a game and having your opponent play decidedly harder than you,” Vogel said. “That’s no fun and that’s what we saw last night and I believe we reversed it tonight.”
Jodie Meeks scored a season-high 23 points, Serge Ibaka and Aaron Gordon each had 22 and the Magic rolled to a 115-103 victory over the New York Knicks, who lost their fifth straight game.
Nikola Vucevic had 14 points and 13 rebounds and fellow reserve Elfrid Payton added 13 points and 14 assists for the Magic, who were routed in their previous two games but totally turned things around against a Knicks team that played without Kristaps Porzingis or much defensive intensity.
Carmelo Anthony scored 19 points for the Knicks, who have dropped eight of 10 to fall to 16-18. He said he didn’t have the answers for their defensive struggles.
“Only thing I can say is we’ve got to get back to the drawing board and get back and try to get some practice time and get back to competing at the top level,” he said.
Two nights after yielding a season-worst 69 points in the first half to James Harden and Houston, the Knicks surrendered 67 to the Magic. Orlando opened a 17-point cushion late in the third quarter on a basket by Ibaka, who had 11 points in the period.
The Knicks got Anthony back after he sat out the second half of the Houston game with knee soreness, and Courtney Lee rejoined the lineup after he missed the three-game road trip with a sore right wrist. New York opted to rest Porzingis a second straight game because of a sore left Achilles tendon.
The Knicks badly missed their 7-foot-3 forward against Ibaka and the Magic’s big frontcourt, but they couldn’t defend the perimeter, either. Orlando tied its season high with 15 3-pointers and had 35 assists on its 45 baskets.
“The ball was moving and when we play like that we can beat anybody,” Meeks said.
Magic: Leading scorer Evan Fournier missed his fifth straight game with a bruised right heel. … Meeks, who came in averaging 8.4 points, had 14 in the first quarter.
Knicks: Derrick Rose scored 18 points and Lee had 14. … The Knicks had won the last two meetings, including a 106-95 victory here on Dec. 22.
Porzingis said he began feeling pain about a week ago and it worsened in the last couple of games, but he felt better Monday and hoped to play. Team doctors checked him out and found nothing serious but decided on another game of rest.
“I was pretty close today, but just they kept me out,” Porzingis said, “so it’s nothing serious, but I can’t wait to get back.”
Vogel said Gordon might take losses harder than any Magic player, and the forward said he would never learn to accept them.
“I never get used to losing. Never,” he said. “So it feels good to win.”
STILL ON TOP
The Magic kept a slim advantage in the all-time series, improving to 53-51 against the Knicks in the regular season.
Magic: Host Atlanta on Wednesday night. The Magic also had 15 3-pointers and a season-best 58.6 percent shooting from the floor in a 131-120 victory on Dec. 13.
Knicks: Host the Bucks on Wednesday night, with the back end of the home-and-home set at Milwaukee on Friday night.
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