NEW YORK (AP) -- It sure seemed like Patrick Ewing's farewell, even if he wasn't ready to admit it.
Ewing got a rare start, made the game's first basket and went
out a winner in what might have been his final game at Madison
Square Garden as the Orlando Magic defeated the New York Knicks
108-97 Tuesday night.
"I'm just going to wait until after the season to worry about it," Ewing said. "I'll let y'all write about it and others speculate on it, but the decision is my decision and I'm going to make it after the season is over."
The night played out like a farewell event, from when Ewing received a standing ovation during pregame introductions until the moment when he got up from his chair in the interview room with his eyes beginning to water.
Ewing won the opening tip, played more minutes than usual and
returned for the final 55 seconds of a lopsided victory as the
Magic clinched a playoff berth.
Ewing lingered on the court for several minutes after the final buzzer, signing autographs and shaking hands. His first stop after leaving the court was the Knicks' locker room instead of the Magic's.
If it was Ewing's last game at the arena where he played for 15 years, it didn't go exactly as he would have liked.
"No. I imagined it that I was still in a Knicks jersey," Ewing said. "But that's life and that's water under the bridge. If it was up to me, my last game would be us winning the championship, but that's not the case."
Orlando coach Doc Rivers gave Ewing his first start since Jan. 5, and the Garden was less than half-empty as Ewing was introduced last among the Orlando starters.
He received a standing ovation that lasted almost 30 seconds.
Ewing hit his first shot, a 17-footer from right of the key, then hit a similar shot to give Orlando an 8-6 lead. The Magic never trailed from that point on.
"The last time I saw the building as empty as it was was my second year, so it was strange," Ewing said.
Ewing, who finished with six points, still has a chance to win the title that has eluded him throughout his 17-year career. His former team and their fans, meanwhile, are getting ready to begin their earliest offseason in 15 years.
Orlando won for the fifth time in six games and snapped a
three-game road losing streak, moving two games ahead of the
Charlotte Hornets in the race for fourth place in the East and
homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Troy Hudson made seven 3-pointers and led the Magic with 29
points, scoring 15 in the second quarter. Horace Grant hit his
first eight shots and finished 11-for-13 from the field for a
season-high 22 points, and Tracy McGrady scored 14 of his 17 points
in the third quarter when the Magic turned the game into a rout.
Orlando shot 57 percent from the field, improving to 18-0 when
shooting 50 percent or better.
Grant hit a 17-footer early in the third to give the Magic their first double-digit lead, 64-53, and McGrady hit a turnaround from the corner with 5:05 left in the third for Orlando's first 20-point lead, 76-55.
The Knicks got no closer than nine in the fourth as the fans
chanted Ewing's name and he acknowledged them with a wave of his
Ewing checked back in and played the final 55 seconds, the fans on their feet throughout. With Ewing trying to wave the play off, the Magic got him the ball in the low post on their final possession. Ewing turned and fired up a long jumper from the corner that went in and out.
"Yeah, I would have liked to see that last shot go in. No sense
in lying," Knicks guard Mark Jackson said.
Ewing's son, 17-year-old Patrick Jr., said he does not
expect his father to retire. "He loves to play. He loves the game
and doesn't want to stop," the younger Ewing said. ... The Magic
completed a 4-0 sweep of the season series. ... The Knicks lost by
10 or more points for the 23rd time. ... Fire Department captain Al
Fuentes, the last survivor to be rescued from the site of the World
Trade Center, received a standing ovation that rivaled the one for