- Ian Begley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Here are a few observations from the first half of the Knicks-Magic game in Orlando, Fla.
The Knicks took the court for the first time in four days and seemed a bit sluggish on defense early on.
New York let Orlando shoot 49 percent from the floor to take a 53-49 lead at the half. It's the second straight game in which the Knicks have trailed at halftime.
The Knicks entered the game leading the league in defensive efficiency (a measure of points allowed per 100 possessions) and opponent field goal percentage (40.7 percent). But their rotations seemed a step slow, they struggled to close out and they were susceptible to the backdoor cut in the first half.
And it's a bit surprising that Orlando was the team to exploit the Knicks. The Magic entered the game averaging just 77.5 points per game in their past four games and were the poorest-scoring team in the league, based on per-game averages.
The Knicks also struggled in the first half on defense against Dallas after a lengthy layoff. So it will be interesting to see what kinds of adjustments Mike Woodson's club makes in the second half.
New York has held all its opponents to 40 points or fewer in the second half through the first four games. One issue against Orlando, however, is that Tyson Chandler already has three fouls.
BOMBS AWAY FOR MAGIC: The Knicks had a 10-point lead in the second quarter but the Magic reeled off a 12-2 run over the next 3:18 to get back into the game. They did damage from the perimeter and inside, getting a key 3-pointer from E'Twaun Moore, a tip-in from Moe Harkless and a layup from Glen Davis.
The Knicks struggled from the perimeter in the first half, going just 4-for-13.
MELO MAKES NOISE: If it weren't for Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks would be down big. Anthony, who entered Tuesday's game leading the NBA in scoring average, had 16 points on 8-of-13 shooting in the first half. He scored several midrange jumpers before Orlando could commit a double-team and got to the rim several times.
Anthony also received a technical foul, his third of the season.
He's had his hands full on the defensive end, as he was forced to cover 289-pound Glen Davis at times in the first half.
TROUBLE ON THE BOARDS: If there's one glaring flaw for the 4-0 Knicks, it's that they've struggled to get rebounds. Those struggles continued Tuesday when the Knicks were outrebounded 25-16 in the first half.
Rasheed Wallace provided a boost, though, getting three rebounds in 10 minutes. Wallace also had a dunk and putback layup to finish with four points, although he's 0-for-3 from beyond the arc.
3dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann