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Knicks Gladly Accept Dwight Howard’s Gift

ORLANDO, FL - APRIL 5: Tyson Chandler #6 of the New York Knicks shoots over Glen Davis #11 of the Orlando Magic on April 5, 2012 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2012 NBAE  (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)

So, let's see, the Knicks this year have had: a fortnight of global popularity called Linsanity unparalleled in recent NBA history; seven different win/loss streaks of three games or more; injuries to every member of its starting lineup (save Landry Fields) and most of its bench; its coach fired because he couldn't get along with the star player; its owner run another one of those non-press-conference press conferences in which he reminded everyone why they'll forever be suspicious of this franchise; and probably some sort of secret plot to invade Bulgaria. It's been a dramatic year, is what we're saying. But the Knicks still haven't had any sort of madness like the Orlando Magic did yesterday. The Knicks seem like Quakers compared to that.

The Knicks beat the Magic 96-80 last night, but even though the Knicks played well, it was hard to get past the sense that the Knicks were just fortunate to happen to be playing the Magic on this particular evening. After the Stan Van Gundy–Dwight Howard madness yesterday — the video of that press conference has not become any less excruciating to watch overnight — the Magic were clearly in no mood to be playing basketball, and the Knicks simply took advantage. Howard was plainly unengaged, not making a basket until late in the third quarter, and had little interest in fighting off Tyson Chandler's constant pestering. So he just sort walked around in a fog, and so did the rest of the Magic. The Magic have now lost five in a row and look like a team that's ready to sleep until fall, a problem when they're currently the No. 5 seed in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, the Knicks wouldn't stop hitting three-pointers, shooting 52 percent from long range on the night. Seven different Knicks hit threes, and as lethargic as the Magic were, that's still some smokin' shooting from the Knicks. (That's to say: Don't get used to it.) Five different Knicks reached double figures, led by Carmelo Anthony with nineteen and including, hey, Toney Douglas, with fifteen.

So, the Knicks are now back at one game over .500, a game and a half ahead of the Bucks for the No. 8 seed. (And, if you're counting, one game behind Philadelphia, two and a half behind Boston, and four behind Orlando and Atlanta.) They haven't lost two in a row under coach Mike Woodson ... but they're gonna be in serious danger of that this week. They get two days off before two straight games against the Chicago Bulls, who will have Derrick Rose back after he missed the last twelve games. Then they play those damn Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday in the biggest game of the season. It's gonna stay stressful for the Knicks, but hey — at least they're not the Magic.

Photo: Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty Images