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Knicks lose fifth straight, falling to Magic

The history was there to savor, cherish and maybe even rub off. But while the Knicks greats of the past were being honored during a halftime ceremony last night at the Garden, the present-day Knicks remained in the locker room.

The disconnect between yesterday and today is so evident, even the legends sitting along celebrity row - Willis Reed, Richie Guerin and Bernard King - didn't seem to wholeheartedly get into the drama down the stretch for this tailspinning team, which lost, 106-102, to the Orlando Magic.

With the loss, the Knicks (28-42) clinched an eighth straight losing season, tying the longest run of futility in franchise history (1959-60 to 1966-67).

David Lee said the current Knicks' snub wasn't intentional; the team was discussing second-half adjustments.

"I talked to a couple of those guys before the game and it's a great thrill we got to play in front of those guys," Lee said.

The Magic players, led by Dwight Howard, came out to watch the ceremony and waved for the crowd to cheer loudly for Patrick Ewing, who is an assistant coach with the Magic.

Howard, who is Ewing's prized pupil, had 29 points and 14 rebounds for Orlando (52-18). His tip-in with 3:53 to go gave the Magic the lead for good at 91-90.

Nate Robinson led the Knicks, who blew a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, with 19 points, but he shot 6-for-23 from the floor and missed a potential game-tying three with 8.2 seconds left.

Coupled with last night's win by the Bulls (33-38), the Knicks fell 41/2 games out of the final Eastern Conference playoff berth. A half-game behind the Bulls just over a week ago, the Knicks have lost five straight while the Bulls have gone 4-1.

Notes & quotes: Larry Hughes did not play because of a jammed big toe . . . Danilo Gallinari returned from Italy and will meet with the Knicks' medical staff to discuss his options regarding his back issues . . . The Knicks signed 6-11 center Courtney Sims out of the D-League for a 10-day contract to replace Cheikh Samb, whose second 10-day contract ended . . . Patrick Ewing Jr. was in attendance. The final cut by the Knicks at the end of training camp, he played well for Reno in the D-League but is out for the rest of the season with a sprained left knee.

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