The Orlando Magic look to build upon the best road start in team history as they head to Madison Square Garden on Friday night to face the New York Knicks.
The Magic (4-1) split their first two games of the season at home before starting a four-game road swing. They've gone 3-0 so far, including a 105-96 victory in Toronto on Wednesday night, but to finish the trip without a loss, they'll have to hand the Knicks their first loss in three home games.
"I like the way our team is responding," first-year Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Of course, I'd like it better if we'd just win by 15, but I like the way our team is responding. That's the way you're going to have to play to win games on the road in this league. I'm very, very pleased with them right now."
The scoring of Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis has been the primary reason for the Magic's fast start. Each player had 24 points on Wednesday, and Turkoglu added a career-high 15 rebounds.
Lewis, who signed a $118 million contract in the offseason to join the Magic, is hitting 58.3 percent from the field to rank among the league leaders -- surprising for a player who does much of his work on the perimeter. He's averaging a team-leading 23.2 points and has made a team-high 17 3-pointers in 29 attempts (58.6 percent).
Many thought Turkoglu's role would decrease somewhat considering, like Lewis, he's also a 6-foot-10 small forward who spends most of his time on the outside. But the Turkish star is off to the best start of his career, averaging 20.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 4.6 assists -- numbers that are considerably better than his previous season highs.
That duo along with center Dwight Howard's consistency (18.8 ppg, 13.0 rpg) closer to the hoop has given Orlando one of the most productive front lines in the league.
New York (2-1) lost its season opener at Cleveland, but has rebounded with home wins over Minnesota and Denver.
Offseason acquisition Zach Randolph has helped boost the team's middle-of-the-pack scoring numbers from last season, averaging 19.3 points and 13.7 rebounds. Along with center Eddy Curry (18.7 ppg), New York is not having trouble scoring points, which was very evident in its 119-112 win over Denver on Wednesday.
"I think that's what (coach) Isiah (Thomas) had in mind when he brought Zach in here," Curry said after scoring 24 points on 11-of-16 shooting. "I had a lot of fun (against Denver). This is probably the most fun I had in a basketball game."
A revived Jamal Crawford also has helped the Knicks improve offensively. The career 40-percent shooter, known for taking a high volume of shots, is still shooting the ball quite a bit - but is hitting more often. Crawford is averaging 24.7 points while shooting 47 percent from the field.
The Knicks have transformed from the league's 16th-best scoring team last season (97.5 ppg) to one of the best in the NBA (107.3 ppg).
"We don't care about who scores," Crawford said. "We just want to make it a team effort and it is hard for teams to defend us that way."
New York won two of three meetings with Orlando last season, but the Magic have won seven of their last 11 visits to Madison Square Garden.