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Reggie Bullock's interception with 5.9 seconds left secures Knicks' win over Magic

Knicks forward Reggie Bullock is congratulated by forward

Knicks forward Reggie Bullock is congratulated by forward Julius Randle after making a 3-point basket during the first half of the team's NBA game against the Magic on Thursday at Madison Square Garden. Credit: AP/Adam Hunger

Can you say redemption?

Reggie Bullock sure can. With 5.9 seconds left, he made a game-saving interception to secure a much-needed 94-93 Knicks win over the Orlando Magic on Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

After a turnover by Bullock, the Magic inbounded to Evan Fournier, who dribbled to the right around a screen by Nikola Vucevic. Bullock fought over the screen, and when Fournier jumped in the air and tried to pass it back to Vucevic, Bullock knocked down the pass with his right hand and stole it. He then passed to Alec Burks, who dribbled into the frontcourt, was able to avoid being fouled and ran out the clock.

Bullock then was mobbed by his teammates.

"It was a great confidence-builder," he said after shooting 6-for-13 from three-point range and scoring 20 points in his first game as a reserve this season. "I had turned the ball over late in the game and I knew I had to be locked down on the defensive end and come up with a great play."

On the Knicks’ previous possession, Bullock was tied up by Fournier, who won the ensuing jump ball to set up the final sequence.

"I don’t care how we win," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "If it calls for making five stops in a row, that’s what you have to do. If it calls for scoring five times in a row, that’s what you have to do. I want us to be great on both sides of the ball. We have to continue to play, but that was a heck of a play by Reggie."

It was an important bounce-back game for the Knicks (21-21), who entered the night in eighth place in the Eastern Conference after two close losses to the Nets and 76ers.

"Defense has been our calling card all year," Julius Randle said. "It’s how we win games. I’m really proud of our team. We had to get a win."

The Knicks got big-time performances from a number of players.

Leading the list was Randle, who dished out assists like an All-Star point guard. He finished with 18 points, 17 assists and 10 rebounds for his third triple-double of the season, making him the first Knick to record at least three triple-doubles in a season since Micheal Ray Richardson in 1981-82.

Burks had 21 points and 10 rebounds and RJ Barrett added 17 points and nine rebounds.

The offensively challenged Frank Ntilikina also came up with a big game. With every other point guard either injured or out because of personal reasons or COVID protocols, Thibodeau gave Ntilikina his third start of the season.

Ntilikina, who had missed 16 consecutive shots over five games, came up with three big three-pointers in the second half. He finished with 13 points, tying his season high, in 26:59.

Ntilikina had been averaging 4.0 points and shooting 36.0% in 13.8 minutes per game. In his last start, the 22-year-old guard went scoreless and committed two personal fouls in the first seven minutes. He was replaced by Immanuel Quickley and did not re-enter the game.

Quickley, who injured his ankle against the 76ers on Tuesday, was one of four Knicks who play point guard who were not available Thursday night. Also out were Elfrid Payton (strained right hamstring), Derrick Rose (health and safety protocols) and Austin Rivers (personal reasons.)

Thibodeau said he never lost confidence in Ntilikina.

"We all tend to measure guys sometimes by ‘he made six in a row or he missed six in a row.’ As long as you take the right shots, [that’s good]," Thibodeau said before the game.

"We want him to be process-oriented. He’s done that. He put a lot of work into his shooting. Sometimes it’s in and out. Just shoot it well. If you're open, shoot. Don’t hesitate. We have a lot of confidence in his ability."

Fournier had 23 points and Vucevic added 17 points and 16 rebounds for Orlando, which has lost nine straight games. Aaron Gordon also had 17 points.

New York Sports