The Orlando Magic have made no secret that the future of their franchise will depend on how well they can develop their young players.
Rookie Victor Oladipo is a key cog in that group and provided a glimpse of what team officials hope that future will look like.
Arron Afflalo scored 32 points and Oladipo had 30 points, a career-high 14 assists and nine rebounds as the Magic rallied to beat the Knicks 129-121 in double overtime on Friday night.
The Magic trailed by as many as 14 points, but got 25 points and 10 assists from Oladipo after halftime to stave off the Knicks. Tobias Harris added 22 points.
“Every game I control one thing — my energy that I bring to both ends of the floor,” Oladipo said. “I’m just trying to do that every game, whether it’s a good game or a bad game.”
Orlando snapped a three-game losing streak in its first game following the departure of Glen Davis, who had the remainder of his contract bought out earlier in the day.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said he thought Oladipo played a complete game. The rookie logged a team-high 49 minutes.
“He got what he wanted to on both ends of the floor,” Vaughn said. “On the offensive end, in a lot of different places we kind of let him go and it was his decision to make.”
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 44 points, but only 14 came after the third quarter.
The Knicks’ loss ended their eight-game win streak over the Magic. It was also the latest head-scratching loss for a team that has last four of its last five and is yet to post back-to-back wins this month.
“Every game right now is important,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “They made the run at the start of the fourth and we couldn’t get it back. It’s a tough loss.”
Afflalo found Oladipo for a layup to put the Magic in front 117-113 in the second overtime.
Orlando was dealt another blow on the Knicks’ next possession when center Nik Vucevic was whistled for his sixth foul. Anthony then hit a pair of free-throws to get the Knicks back within a basket.
Oladipo answered, getting fouled when he fought past Tim Hardaway Jr. for a layup. He completed the three-point play to push the lead back to 120-115.
The Knicks got it back to a point before another three-point play by Oladipo made it 125-121 with 30.7 seconds left.
Felton had a 3-pointer rattle out on the other end, forcing the Knicks to foul and Orlando sealed the win at the free throw line.
“It is just another game that I feel that we gave away,” Anthony said. “We were up and had a comfortable lead. They fought back and never quit.”
The Knicks led by as many as 14 in the third quarter before the Magic trimmed it to 86-83 in the opening minutes of the fourth.
Afflalo sent it to overtime when he hit a step-back jumper with 42.9 seconds left to tie it 106-all.
As solid as his performance was, Oladipo said he’s not satisfied.
“There’s so much room for improvement. I can get so much better,” he said. “I really feel like I haven’t scratched the surface of how good I’m going to be. I honestly believe that.”