Grant Hill took them and gave his best performance of the season.
Mike Miller scored 23 points and Hill had 16 points and 15 rebounds as Orlando defeated New York 87-85 Wednesday night, snapping the Knicks' three-game winning streak.
Orlando was without McGrady, who suited up but did not play after turning his right ankle in a loss to Boston on Monday.
"I've been spoiled playing with Tracy -- usually he gets all the
attention,'' joked Hill, who played a season-high 40 minutes.
"Tonight was a little rough. It was like the old days. We've got
to get him back.''
Allan Houston had 31 points and Howard Eisley added 16 points and nine assists for the Knicks, who had several opportunities in the final seconds but let the game slip away.
Hill missed a baseline jumper with 10 seconds left, and Latrell Sprewell brought the ball up quickly with the Knicks down 86-85. Sprewell passed to Kurt Thomas, who fumbled the ball out of bounds.
Darrell Armstrong, a 90-percent free throw shooter, then made only one of two from the line, giving the Knicks one more chance with 3.1 seconds left. Eisley inbounded to Thomas and got the ball back but couldn't get a shot off before the buzzer.
"The thing that's disappointing is that we had a legitimate chance late in the game,'' Houston said, referencing the last Knicks' last two possessions. "You want to get a shot up in those situations.''
Hill, who has said his sore ankle would be better if he played
more minutes, proved it by playing all 12 in the first and fourth
quarters, and outhustling the Knicks all game long. His baseline
jumper with 1:01 left put the Magic up 86-83.
"I told Doc, 'Play me if you want to play me. I want to get this win.' And it almost came back to bite me in the butt. I got a little tired in the second half.''
Orlando capitalized on Houston's early foul trouble, brought on by Hill driving right at him. The Magic used rotations and sets to gave Miller wide-open looks at 3-pointers and sent unlikely slashers such as Horace Grant and Shawn Kemp dashing for quick passes in the lane.
With Houston back on the floor, New York cut into an 18-point lead that was fueled by Grant hitting six of his seven first-half baskets.
Houston had three 3-pointers and a pair of jumpers in the last
four minutes, and Eisley added five points, including a 3 that cut
the lead to 53-49 with 15 seconds left.
Hill sat out the last 3:39 of the first half, and not having
McGrady or Hill on the floor during that stretch hurt the most.
"I had to save my minutes for the second half and I knew that,'' coach Doc Rivers said. "I'm looking at minutes more in the first half because if I can store enough for the second half for a run.''
Rivers asked assistant coaches how many minutes Hill had played
with 6:30 left in the game, expressing concern about his fatigue.
Hill did not sit the rest of the game.
"Forty is too much, but Grant and his (trainer) both told me go with
it tonight. I already told him tomorrow he's off,'' Rivers said.
The Knicks had outrebounded opponents by an average of
52-37 in their three previous wins, but had only 39 to Orlando's 43
. ... The Magic activated forward Grant, who went on the injured
list Nov. 8 with a sore left knee. The 15-year veteran scored 14
points and played tough defense in the second and fourth quarters.
... Hill put back a miss by Jacque Vaughn to beat the buzzer at the
end of the first quarter. The replay was reviewed and the call was
upheld. ... Rapper Jay-Z celebrated his birthday courtside next to
singer Beyonce Knowles. Also in attendance were Richard Dreyfus and