1. The Knicks two top scorers were sidelined on Sunday afternoon but the home team managed to battle back from a 17-point deficit in a close defeat to the Magic. Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. did not suit up for the contest, which led to head coach Jeff Hornacek placing Michael Beasley and rookie Damyean Dotson in the starting lineup. On the other side of the floor, Orlando recorded its second victory over New York this season behind 34 points from Nikola Vucevic. The Magic also reached the charity stripe 29 times in the road victory.
2. Porzingis is out with an ankle injury he suffered in last Wednesday’s win over the Heat and an illness that occurred over the weekend. Hardaway Jr. was a late scratch for yesterday’s contest due to a stress injury in his lower left leg. Both players did not travel with the team to Indiana. Porzingis and Hardaway Jr. account for 43.6 points per game this season.
3. During his postgame press conference yesterday, Hornacek expressed to the media that he has not made a decision on the starting lineup against the Pacers. In the three games Porzingis has missed this season, Beasley started at the power forward position. The 28-year old averaged 18.3 points in those three outings against the Magic twice and in Houston where he tallied a season-high 30 points in 36 minutes. Hornacek said he will either start Beasley or Lance Thomas in place of Porzingis.
4. In the first meeting between the two teams, New York staged an epic comeback at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks rallied from 19 down to topple the Pacers 108-101 on November 6. Porzingis fueled the home team by scoring a career-high 40 points and becoming the first player in the NBA since 1983-84 to record at least 40 points, five rebounds, five blocks, and make two 3-pointers. Enes Kanter hauled down 18 boards, Frank Ntilikina dished out seven assists, and the Knicks scored 54 points in the paint in the win.
5. Since the matchup in early November, Indiana has won six of its last nine games despite two consecutive defeats to the Rockets and Raptors. The Pacers allowed Houston to score 118 and Toronto to drop 120 in the losses. Victor Oladipo continues to shine for Indiana as its leading scorer (23.4 PPG) and Myles Turner mans the middle by averaging 2.4 swats per game. The Pacers are a dangerous team in the open floor as they rank No. 3 in fastbreak points in the NBA. Tonight’s clash is the second of three scheduled for the 2017-18 season and Indiana owns a 12-11 record while New York enters the contest at 11-11 overall.