The Knicks had been the only Atlantic Division opponent to earn a win against Toronto this year but couldn’t duplicate that effort in the 10th interdivisional game for the Raptors.
Closing out quarters and halves has been an issue for the Raptors at times this season.
But when it came to finishing off anything Monday night, the Raptors were mostly on point.
You could argue the Raptors put this one to bed just before the half, when they finished up on an 15-2 run to take a 14-point lead into the dressing room at halftime.
And with New York putting up a rumour of fight back in the second half, you would probably be right.
“That’s what we’ve got to do when we get big leads against teams, we have to understand they’re going to fight back,” DeRozan said. “We have to take it up another notch to keep that lead up and finish the games strong like we did tonight.”
The victory was impressive because of its thoroughness. Four times in about three minutes of post-game conversation, coach Dwane Casey lauded his team for its “professional” approach.
“I was concerned about the back-to-back, right after the break, not being in great condition, but our guys came out and gave a professional effort,” he said. “I’m going to say this again, it’s a new phenomenon having seven to nine days off during all-star break and now coming back and getting into a game rhythm . . . it’s a new thing.”
The Raptors showed a bit of that early, shrugging off a lethargic first quarter to dominate the second and build a 14-point halftime lead.
Holding the Knicks to 6-for-19 shooting in the quarter and finishing it on a 24-6 run, the Raptors had the Madison Square Garden crowd booing the home team off the court.
UNDERRATED RAPTORS PLAYER OF THE GAME: Bismack Biyombo put in another strong performance off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing nine rebounds (five offensive) in 19 minutes. Biyombo was a perfect 4-for-4 from the floor and added an assist and a blocked shot.
The Raptors outscored the Knicks 65-52 in the second half, inciting the MSG crowd to chant “We want Jimmer!” in hopes of seeing Jimmer Fredette — fresh off signing a 10-day contract with New York — in a Knicks uniform for the first time. The fans got their wish (kind of), as Fredette got in for the final 1:49 of the game, hit a three, and committed a foul and a turnover. Let’s just say that Jimmermania is not at Linsanity levels in New York just yet.
Fredette, a former lottery pick who signed a 10-day contract with the Knicks on Monday morning, remained on the bench for much of the game. When Kurt Rambis, the team’s interim coach, finally called on Fredette to shed his warm-up attire with less than two minutes left, the crowd — at least those fans who remained — roared.
Fourteen seconds later, Fredette sank his only field-goal attempt, a 3-pointer. The Knicks trailed by 21. The shot was one of their few highlights.
This game was what the East’s best backcourt against its worst looks like. Kyle Lowry and DeRozan penetrated at will, each scoring 22 points, with Lowry adding 11 boards and 11 assists. (For those pining for Nic Batum this summer, would you rather have Batum or DeRozan? I think he’s staying in Toronto, but I’ll take DeRozan all day.) Meanwhile, Arron Afflalo, with a miserable seven points on 11 contested pull-up jumpers, actually outscored his teammates Calderon, Langston Galloway and Sasha Vujacic – in a combined 50 minutes – by seven points.
Really, though, tonight’s game merely signified another stop on the trek down the wrong side of the mountain, this season’s peak appearing just that much farther away in the rearview mirror.
How can a group that was .500 and inspiring playoff talk one month ago look so awful so soon after? It’s dangerous and pretty much impossible to accuse a team of not caring, so I wouldn’t say the Knicks didn’t care. I would say they often looked like tonight’s game wasn’t their hearts’ deepest desire. The 122 points surrendered was the most they’ve given up in regulation all season. This is probably the best Toronto team ever, one with two All-Stars in their backcourt. The Knicks don’t have two starting-caliber guards, period. Often the simplest explanation is the most likely.
“I need to go home and decompress and relax,” he said. “Just losing. It’s hard to accept that. Losing basketball games.”
It’s hard to give anything less when the team finds scorers from all over on their way to a 122 point night. As a team the Raptors were 52.9% from the field and 44% from range. The fact Kyle Lowry was able to lead scorers and also manage 11 assists shows how versatile he can be. In another positive the Raptors only gave up 7 turnovers. Overall three key things contributed to the Raptors big night, lack of defence from the Knicks was one (who at times looked like they weren’t trying as Toronto put up 36 final quarter points), the Raptors big 3 was another, as mentioned earlier they combined for 64 and then there was the bench who managed 42 overall and were able to continue the scoring all night.
“I know they called up Toronto and talked about Valanciunas and Toronto hung up the phone,” – Lowe.
Toronto Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry & Charlotte Hornets big man Spencer Hawes join JJ this week on The Vertical Podcast. Kyle and JJ get into the trade that didn’t happen and kept Kyle in Toronto. JJ also fills us in on “Skinny” Kyle Lowry and what it means. JJ’s former teammate and current Hornets big man Spencer Hawes talks with JJ about trade deadline stories and how it affected them in their career. Spencer and JJ give some of their Oscar picks in this week’s 4 on 4.
The margin of error between being very good and just OK for this team is pretty slim in spite of their nice record–can’t be fooled by the record. The playoffs are a completely different animal. Need to be clicking on all cylinders to be successful. Not going to overwhelm folks with Hall of Fame talent. That’s OK–they have the personality of a team where the sum is more important than the parts. I like the group. Good teams can and do win. Just have to be consistent with their habits on both sides of the ball. Still a bit volatile in that regard. Plenty of time to tighten the screws and grow–has to happen. Confident that they know what it takes to take that next step. Witnessing the ups and downs of that process right now. Always a fun ride.
The string of losses comes after the 905 (13-22) won eight of their last 10 games heading into the weekend.
On Sunday, Bhullar and Bruno Caboclo each scored a game-high 21 points while Bhullar added 10 rebounds as well.
Greg Smith also had a double-double for Raptors 905 with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Seven players on the Charge scored at least 13 points, led by Antoine Aguido’s team-high 19. Michael Stockton (18 points and 12 assists) and Juvonte Reddic (13 points and 19 rebounds) posted double-doubles for Canton (21-13).
Bettors have a lot of confidence in the Raptors too. The Raps, who are 30-24 against the spread this season, are set as -1000 favourites to win the Atlantic Division and they’re now at +600 to win the Eastern Conference crown. At the moment they sit fifth on the NBA title odds board at +1500.
The trajectory of the Raptors would have obviously changed had the deal gone through. Just how close was the deal to be completed? According to Kyle Lowry, who appeared on the latest episode of J.J. Redick’s podcast — which you can listen to here — the deal was done. You can listen to it more in-depth, but Redick says he heard from another player who was with Lowry’s agent Andy Miller at lunch that day that the deal was done. Lowry confirms that, saying he had already packed two duffle bags at his home in Toronto that afternoon, and was waiting for a call from Miller to take a flight to New York.
Lowry also said he would have wanted to sign a one-year deal with the Knicks that summer, and testing the market again (in what would have been last summer). A few hours later, he got a call from Miller who told him the deal was off, and the rest is history.
Thompson certainly isn’t a star on either end of the floor, but he would be a decent presence for a team looking for options. He has been considered a good locker room character and a motivator for his teammates. During his short season with the Warriors, Thompson was not one to complain about his lack of playing time, San Francisco Chronicle’s Rusty Simmons reported.
Sitting second in the Eastern Conference, the Raptors may consider signing Thompson to provide some relief for Luis Scola and Patrick Patterson, the latter of whom is having a poor season. Thompson has yet to say where he would like to go, but he is likely interested in moving to where he’ll get to play.
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