Morning Coffee – Tue, Jan 17

Raptors start road swing with an OT Banger | Is OG happy?

10 things: Raptors’ starters set the tone with forceful effort vs. Knicks – Sportsnet

There was no question of effort in this game. Nick Nurse copped to issues of energy in diagnosing their loss to Atlanta on the weekend, and his team responded in kind with one of their most forceful performances on the season. The tone was set early by the starters, as Scottie Barnes flew in for a chase-down block, then jumped to save the rebound, which sent Fred VanVleet nearly crashing into the first row as he rescued the loose ball on his tippy toes, before jetting ahead to feed Gary Trent Jr. in the corner. The bench carried on that approach, with Chris Boucher stuffing Obi Toppin’s dunk, followed by Precious Achiuwa diving on the floor to tip the rebound out, which eventually saw Boucher record a putback dunk racing the other way in transition. Toronto maintained their energy throughout, with Pascal Siakam recording multiple blocks while guarding in isolation despite having five fouls for much of the ending, and with Scottie Barnes chasing down several key offensive rebounds to secure the result. The Raptors need to fight this hard on a consistent basis to have any hopes of turning their season around.

Scottie Barnes is back to doing a little bit of everything for Raptors – The Athletic

In the first quarter of the Raptors’ 123-121 overtime win at Madison Square Garden on Monday afternoon, Scottie Barnes pressed up defensively on Julius Randle. It was laudable, but ultimately the wrong play: The Knicks All-Star stepped around him and had a free path to the rim, a selection of easy passes available to him. The Knicks got a dunk out of it. It was just a little too much aggression — a mistake of commission, the kind Barnes made on Randle a few times on the day.

Frankly, most of what the Raptors were looking for from Barnes in what has been, for the most part, a disappointing second season: mistakes of commission. Too often, his presence has been missing. He has been on the outside looking in. While it’s tempting to say that is because he is not a top offensive option on this team, his usage rate is up from his Rookie of the Year campaign season last year, as are his touches. For all the re-jigging of the Raptors half-court needs, you cannot blame anyone but Barnes for not finding a way to seep into the cracks of a game, even when the looks aren’t coming his way.

Well, in case you needed a reminder, Barnes’ potential is still sky-high. Even as he made plenty of mistakes, including one that directly led to the Knicks forcing overtime, this is the Barnes worth not only enduring mistakes for but a player worth building a team around. Barnes had 26 points, seven rebounds and a career high 13 free-throw attempts, and was everywhere down the stretch in the win.

His best quality is his vision. The Raptors have used him as a screener more often recently in an effort to take advantage, but he can also operate out of the high post. In overtime, he whipped a cross-court pass that buzzed several tops of heads before finding O.G. Anunoby in the corner for a 3. Later on, he allowed a play to fully develop before hooking up a cutting Pascal Siakam for a bucket. He got the hockey assist, attracting two defenders, on another bucket, and started several successful plays. In a perfect world, Barnes would be developed enough as a handler and shooter to maximize his playmaking. He is not, and that’s OK. What was different against the Knicks versus earlier in the year: He punished mismatches to make New York respect him as a driver.

He was also around the glass all afternoon. He’s down from 3.7 to 3.1 offensive rebounds per 36 minutes this year, and that’s certainly not because of a lack of opportunities. This is the worst jump-shooting team in the league. He grabbed a game-high six against the Knicks, including a huge one near the end of regulation after a miss from Fred VanVleet.

Getting that version of Barnes, the one who seems like he is involved in plays that don’t involve him in a primary role, is essential. He made the mistake of a young player late — after missing a free throw, he sat on RJ Barrett’s right hand as he drove down the floor trying to tie the game for the Knicks. Unfortunately, Barrett is left-handed, and the Torontonian was soon cramming the ball into the rim and forcing overtime. That sort of mistake, especially in the flow of play instead of after whistles, is going to happen.

Two years from now? That’s inexcusable. For now: That’s fine. Barnes can run the fast break like a point guard and start them with blocks at the rim. He can set screens like a brute and pass from the top of the key like Marc Gasol. He has multiple avenues to impact games, and Barnes once again is showing it.

Raptors withstand wild endings, outlast Knicks at MSG – ESPN

It was VanVleet’s mistake with 18 seconds to go in the fourth quarter that set in motion a chaotic final few moments of regulation. After Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam both missed jumpers that could have given Toronto the lead, the shot clock turned off when Julius Randle grabbed the defensive rebound. But, rather than playing defense and forcing the Knicks to make a shot on the final possession, VanVleet — who had an outstanding game otherwise, finishing with 33 points, eight assists and just one turnover in 45 minutes — grabbed Brunson to commit a foul, giving New York two free throws as a result.

“I was just trying to make sure we got the last shot,” VanVleet said with a smile. “I was just trying to make sure we got the last shot, and we’ll leave it at that.”

But, after Brunson split his two free throws, and VanVleet missed a 3 at the other end, Barnes grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to put Toronto back up by one.

Then, after Brunson missed a potential go-ahead jumper and Barnes was fouled by Randle in the ensuing chase for the rebound, he made the first of two free throws but missed the second, giving New York the ball back with 6 seconds go.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau elected not to call timeout, and RJ Barrett — who grew up just outside Toronto — proceeded to go coast-to-coast and throw down a massive dunk over Barnes with 0.6 seconds left, sending the game to an extra session.

“I thought it was a hell of a play, and that’s how the game went,” Thibodeau said. “Back and forth. Look, it was a quick turnaround for us, and we kept fighting the whole game.”

That fight from the Knicks extended all the way to when the game looked like it was firmly in Toronto’s control when the Raptors had the ball with under a minute to go and a six-point lead.

Raptors Takeaways: VanVleet, Barnes shine in OT win over Knicks – Sportsnet

Brunson signed this past summer with the Knicks for $104 million over four years, while VanVleet, coming off a career year and with a chance to test free agency next summer, wasn’t in a hurry to sign an extension with the Raptors, who could only offer three years and $89 million or four years and $114 million.

VanVleet told ESPN.com recently that he believed he’s outplayed the value of the extension he can earn on his current deal (which is limited to a 20 per cent raise) — and at his best he probably has. But Brunson – two years younger than VanVleet — is showing what kind of value a smaller guard provide for $26 million a year, with a season that could well find him making his all-star debut.

However, VanVleet won the day on Monday. He finished with 33 points and eight assists and was instrumental as the Raptors came back from down 10 with nine minutes left and hit a massive three with two minutes left to keep it going.

Meanwhile, the Raptors started crowding Brunson on his drives and trapping him where they could, limiting him to 2-of-9 shooting and five points in the fourth quarter and overtime along with a pair of costly turnovers. He finished with 26 points and two assists on 11-of-29 shooting.

Brunson had been averaging 32 points on 52 per cent shooting in his first seven games of 2023, leading the Knicks to six wins in that stretch.

Barnes bringing it

For all the questions and drama that Scottie Barnes’ slow start to his second season has inspired, give the second-year wing credit where it’s due: he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career lately.

He morphed into the world’s biggest and most physical point guard down the stretch as he took over the Raptors offence, forcing his way to the paint, finding open teammates and beasting on the glass to hoover up their misses when needed.

Barnes scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half, 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime and was six-of-seven from the line.

He wasn’t perfect. After missing a free throw with 6.6 seconds left that would have put the Raptors up three in the fourth, he failed to contain RJ Barrett in the full court – crucially letting the Canadian get to his left hand – as the Knicks wing took in the length of the floor to send it into overtime with a resounding dunk.

There were some other issues containing the ball against Julius Randle earlier in the game too, but overall, more performances like this earlier in the season would have avoided a lot of questions about Barnes, who is averaging 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds 5.2 assists on 54 per cent shooting over his last five games — in which the Raptors are 4-1.

RJ Barrett’s game-tying dunk goes to waste in Knicks’ loss – NY Post

At the time, it felt like one of those magical Martin Luther King Jr. Day moments at the Garden. Up there with Trent Tucker’s 3-pointer to beat the Bulls and Patrick Ewing becoming the first player in franchise history to reach 15,000 career points.

Then, after a frustrating overtime, RJ Barrett’s game-tying dunk at the end of the regulation was quickly forgotten.

“The win would’ve been the most special thing,” he said after the Knicks’ 123-121 overtime loss to the Raptors.

The play was still special in its own right. Barrett grabbed the rebound of a Scottie Barnes miss at the free-throw line and went coast-to-coast for the game-tying dunk with 0.6 seconds left. It took him less than six seconds to go from one end of the floor to the other, and led to a raucous, albeit brief, celebration inside the Garden. Only Barnes picked Barrett up, and Barrett went right past him, as the other Raptors defended their men outside of the paint.

“We were down two, there were six, seven seconds left, I knew I could go to the basket. So I tried to do that,” Barrett said. “I saw Scottie was there, so I knew if I passed him that I would have a wide-open layup or they would’ve all came in and we would have an open 3.”

It was part of a strong performance from Barrett, who finished with 32 points and seven rebounds in his fourth game back after missing two weeks with a lacerated right index finger. He started slowly on Monday, missing seven of his first eight shots, but then got hot and never really cooled down.

“He’s back, he’s back,” Jalen Brunson said. “He’s worked really hard to get back and try to get back into the rhythm, and I think this was his ‘I’m-back-in-rhythm’ game. I’m just excited [about] how he played tonight. I wish we could’ve brought home the win for him, because he played great, and he deserved it.”

Raptors 123, Knicks 121 (OT): Scenes from a playoff loss in the regular season – Posting and Toasting

You won’t see many more beautiful games than the New York Knicks 123-121 overtime loss to the Toronto Raptors. If intensity tastes savory, this game was a blooming onion of blood, sweat and tears. Literally: Julius Randle caught a nose bleed in the first half, the players and referees sweated and I know I wasn’t alone in crying metaphorically. Intensity tastes like appetite: the Knicks have been winning and with each win our lust for more grows. Should that lust grow up to be 6-foot-8, odds are it will end up playing for the Raptors, the Canadian team that’s taken Canadian Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” literally with their medium-sized roster. Tonight, medium was plenty.

The Knicks led the whole second half until this one bit near the end when they didn’t. Missed free throws from Randle and Jalen Brunson cost the Knicks dearly in regulation, though without those misses we wouldn’t have gotten a new contender for RJ Barrett’s career higlight, one that tied the game in the final second. There is beauty in life sprung free just barely from death’s clutches.

So the game to overtime and yada yada yada, Brunson had a chance to tie it or win it at the buzzer and missed a good look from deep. The Knicks lost a game that hurt more than usual because of how badly both teams fought for it. Like, the Raptors are generally pretty inoffensive among NBA teams, yet by the end of the game they all seemed like dicks, especially Scottie Barnes, who’s probably my favorite Raptor. There’s some blooming onion for you. Recap to follow.

Knicks haunted by inability to close games in another inexcusable loss – Daily Knicks

Before I get into the negatives, let’s talk about some of the good things from this game. For starters, RJ Barrett not only had a pretty solid game, but he also hit the biggest shot of the night with his poster dunk on Scottie Barnes to send the game into overtime.

Barrett finished the game with 32 points, seven rebounds, and two assists while shooting 10-of-23 from the field, 2-of-9 from three, and most importantly, 10-of-11 from the free throw line. This was by no means a great game from Barrett as he really struggled at times, but it was nice to see him rack up some big-time points when the team needed him.

Julius Randle had a solid all-around game, not the most efficient like Barrett but he made some big plays to help bring the Knicks closer to winning in overtime. In 42 minutes, Randle racked up 21 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists while shooting 7-of-20 from the field and 1-of-6 from three. Randle’s steal and layup on the other end to bring New York within four with 40 seconds left in overtime was huge and would help set up an eventual Jalen Brunson game-winning attempt that wouldn’t go in.

Speaking of Brunson, this was a pretty rough game for him, but we can’t be mad at him considering how well he has been playing since the start of 2023. Against the Raptors, Brunson scored 26 points, seven rebounds, and two assists. However, he shot 11-of-29 from the field, 2-of-6 from behind the arc, and worst of all, 2-of-4 from the free throw line including a miss toward the end of the game that in hindsight, would’ve given New York the win.

Some may criticize Brunson for his last second three-point attempt with the Knicks down two, but in today’s league it is always better to go for the win as opposed to heading into another overtime, so I can’t say I’m upset with him. It was a wide-open look that unfortunately didn’t fall, but hopefully the next time Brunson takes a shot like that he will be a little luckier.

This game is just one of many in which the Knicks have fallen apart down the stretch and they must be better. It’s a make-or-miss league and if the Knicks keep blowing games in the fourth quarter, they won’t be the sixth seed for much longer.

The Knicks have their work cut out for them with their upcoming schedule, so hopefully they can get it together and win some big games in order to stamp themselves as a legitimate playoff team in the Eastern Conference.

Raptors fight to the finish against New York Knicks, winning 123-121 – Raptors HQ

OT saw O.G. Anunoby score multiple three’s and the Raptors get stops. Scottie had remarkable vision in his assists, and the Raptors played good defence. Pascal Siakam may have missed a three, but he followed up with a slam plus the foul.

It was INCREDIBLY stressful to see the Raptors play so well and hope that they close out. While the Raptors can be really good in clutch situations, they often fail to close games with a W in tight situations.

With 1:20 left, Siakam is fouled out — which, frankly, is awful for their chances in any situation. Nick Nurse replaced Siakam with Precious Achiuwa, whose defence has been energizing since his return. The right call to replace Siakam, in my opinion.

Truly the longest minute of life. Barrett takes a couple of free throws to bring the Knicks within three, and on the last possession, it’s Precious Achiuwa who misses a three — but it’s too late for Knicks.

The Raptors GRIND OUT the win in Overtime, 123-121 over the New York Knicks.

Don’t get too comfortable though, the Knicks will return to Toronto NEXT WEEK to seek revenge.

It was a GREAT game for both Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes. VanVleet scored 33 points, eight assists and five rebounds, and was CLUTCH for the Raptors in the close out. Scottie Barnes made multiple ESSENTIAL plays including rebounds, wild assists, and a handful of free throws that allowed the Raptors to not only bring it to Overtime, but win the game. He ended the game with 26 points, four assists and seven rebounds.

Raptors walk away with OMG win at MSG — in OT | The Star

“The good teams find ways to win, and we just kept making plays.”

It was not easy, which probably made it more rewarding as they headed to Milwaukee for a game Tuesday night against the Bucks.

There was a mental blip by VanVleet: fouling when he didn’t have to, in the final 20 seconds of regulation time.

“I was just trying to make sure we got the last shot, I’ll just leave it at that,” he joked.

There was a court-length dash and dunk by the Knicks’ R.J. Barrett, who was poorly guarded, that tied the game with less than a second left in the fourth quarter.

But then there were two huge O.G. Anunoby three-pointers in overtime, a timely defensive stop or two, and deep breaths as New York’s Jalen Brunson missed a pull-up three-pointer at the OT buzzer.

“Just kinda said, ‘Please, don’t go in,’” coach Nick Nurse said of Brunson’s shot. “I had a really good view of it. I was right on the angle that he shot it on, just hoping he was going to miss.”

Another day, another game, and Brunson might have made that shot and carved another notch in the Raptors’ campaign. No one would have been too surprised because that’s the way their season has gone. They play hard most times and well for bits of most games, but seldom seal the deal.

It’s why Monday’s win might give them some life.

“We take whatever we can get at this point,” VanVleet said. “It’s been one of those seasons so far. I just thought today was a great win for us, and something that we can build on going into the future. We kept pushing, made some big plays and I thought we just played well as a team.”

The Raptors don’t get close to winning, however, without a tremendous game from Scottie Barnes.

He might have split free throws that could have sealed a victory in regulation, and he might have been able to impede Barrett’s unencumbered drive for the game-tying dunk, but Barnes was Toronto’s offensive engine with the game on the line.

VanVleet led the team in scoring with 33 points, but Barnes had 28, dished out four assists and added seven rebounds in a great all-around performance.

“Scottie was tough,” Nurse said. “He was tough when he drove it and took the shot. He was tough when he drove it and got off it to somebody else. Good in the low post and then good in the high post.

“We started running some stuff through him late, and we just made some great decisions.”

It’s impossible to tell if there will be any carry-over from Monday’s win through a difficult stretch that includes nine road games in Toronto’s next 11 outings. But there is no doubt there was some extra confidence, extra happiness leaving the Garden.

“There’s been some really rough stretches for us,” Nurse said, “and there’s been a lot of games where we haven’t played that well. But in saying that, there’s a lot of them we have played really well against really good teams … that we haven’t come out of the right side on.”

Raptors Open Road Trip With Critical OT Victory Over Knicks – Sports Illustrated Toronto Raptors

Toronto almost let it slip away in the fourth. An ill-advised foul from Fred VanVleet on Brunson in a tied game nearly cost the Raptors, but Barnes responded with three free throws to put the Raptors up two. It should have been enough, but afraid to give up the three, Toronto left the lane wide open for R.J. Barrett to tie things up and force overtime.

The silly error from VanVleet was the lone slip-up in an otherwise spectacular 33-point performance from the 28-year-old. The back injury he dealt with coming into the day couldn’t slow him down as he shook out of his prolonged shooting slump with some timely, tough, and occasionally extremely deep three-pointers. He nailed a 30-footer late in the second half to keep the Raptors’ offense ticking and hit a crucial three-pointer off the dribble in the fourth after pump-faking Quentin Grimes off the ground.

When New York did step out to respect VanVleet’s three-point range, he made them pay inside, nailing a pull-up mid-range jumper over Grimes to tie things up just minutes after finding Barnes for three on a beautiful kick-out pass from the free-throw line.

The energy was there early Monday afternoon. After a 6-0 start for the Knicks, Toronto came to life, whizzing the ball around the court and connecting on both ends. Barnes looked aggressive, bodying Julius Randle in the paint for a bucket. Later in the quarter, he blocked Brunson allowing VanVleet to scoop up the loose ball just before it bounced out of bounds, spurring Toronto’s fastbreak and leading to a Gary Trent Jr. three-pointer in the corner.

VanVleet, who looked a little off with his shooting early in the quarter, beat New York’s defense with a hesitation dribble in the paint to create a two-for-one opportunity for the Raptors just before the first expired.

The bench brought that same energy to start the second quarter. In the span of just seconds, Chris Boucher slid over to block a dunk attempt from Obi Toppin and then sprinted down the court for a put-back dunk when Juancho Hernangomez missed a layup. But Toronto’s 10-point lead wouldn’t last. An inability to box out on the defensive glass created far too many second-chance opportunities for New York as the Raptors’ offense went silent for over five minutes without a made field goal.

Barnes’ aggressiveness continued to open the third as he twice bullies the Knicks for buckets in the paint, using his size to overpower the undersized Brunson. When New York converged around him deep in the paint later in the quarter, he threw a beautiful skip pass over three defenders to find Trent for three.

Monday showed what the Raptors should look like when they’re playing with energy. Even when the shots weren’t falling for extended stretches or the defense slipped a tad, the hustle was there. Now it’s about keeping that going and stringing together some high-energy games. Wins won’t be easy on the road, but the effort can’t waiver.

Raptors pull out all the stops and secure a must-win against host Knicks | Toronto Sun

Questionable to even play due to recurring lower back issues, VanVleet didn’t just lace them up for the afternoon tilt, he put the Raptors on that wonky back and carried them.

Down five with two minutes to go in this game and looking like the Raptors were headed for another loss, VanVleet drained a three and then hit a mid-range jumper to get his team back on even terms.

The Raptors actually had a lead in the dying seconds of this one and should have closed it out but after a missed Scottie Barnes free throw, Mississauga native RJ Barrett was somehow allowed to go from his own basket to the other end, basically untouched, for the game-tying and overtime-forcing flush.

It was the kind of moment that has sunk this team in the past, but on this afternoon there was no giving in, only overcoming one hurdle after another until the win was secured.

In the extra time and even having lost Pascal Siakam for the final minute and a half when he picked up his sixth and disqualifying foul, the Raptors kept their wits about them and pulled it out.

O.G. Anunoby, who had missed all five of his three-point attempts was huge in the overtime frame hitting two corner three-pointers to give the Raptors some breathing room.

Anunoby finished with just 10 points and struggled for large chunks of the game keeping the red-hot Julius Randle in check but when his team needed him most Anunoby was there.

Siakam, for his part, drew a ton of attention from New York defenders and settled for just 20 points in the game, but had nine big assists and played some incredible one-on-one defence down the stretch to keep the Knicks at bay.

VanVleet was coming off one of the worst games of his career in Saturday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks and rebounded in a massive way with those 33 points, eight assists and five boards as he did a little bit of everything in this one.

There will be little time to celebrate this one as they head directly to Milwaukee from New York to take on the Bucks.

Truth be told, the Raptors don’t have the wiggle room to waste any energy on celebrating. They are going to need a number of more victories and certainly a lot more of the energy they showed in this one if they have any hope of crawling out of the deep hole they have dug for themselves.

But a win in New York is a good place to start. For one, it’s a road game where the Raptors had won just five times in 18 previous tries.

But the big takeaway from this one was just the amped energy and pace the team played with in securing the victory.

It can’t be the last time we see this.

Pass or Pursue with Knicks-Raptors trade for OG Anunoby – Daily Knicks

This trade came from Eric Koreen of The Athletic and is one that would certainly change things up for both the Knicks and Raptors. In all honestly, I kind of like it. A lot of the time people try to add big-time names to the Knicks like Zach LaVine who wouldn’t fit and are being paid too much, however, Anunoby would fit perfectly on the Knicks and would solve a lot of their problems.

KNICKS GET
OG ANUNOBY
KHEM BIRCH

RAPTORS GET
OBI TOPPIN
EVAN FOURNIER
2023 FIRST-ROUND PICK, 2024 SECOND-ROUND PICK,
2025 FIRST-ROUND PICK

Considering what the Raptors are reportedly hoping to get for Anunoby, this is an absolute steal, hence why this trade may be a little unrealistic. However, if the Knicks were offered this trade they should accept it without hesitation.

The 2023 pick going to Toronto would be the better of the Knicks’ two picks this season between their own and the Mavericks. Considering how well the Knicks are currently playing, plus how much better they’d be with Anunoby, this pick would likely be in the 20s, and what are the odds of a player picked that late being better than Anunoby?

While losing the 2025 pick may hurt a bit, the Knicks are an incredibly young team that will more likely than not still be in playoff contention at that point, so it’s not like they’d be giving up a top-tier pick.

What may be the hardest thing to let go of in this trade is Obi Toppin, a player with a good amount of potential. However, with the way he is used in New York, it may be better to let him go to a team that will utilize him better.

Toppin has the potential to be one of the best finishers and rollers in the league, yet is constantly used as a spot-up shooter for the Knicks’ offense. This is a Tom Thibodeau problem but with how successful the Knicks have been it is doubtful that he will be fired this season, so it may just be best to trade Toppin to get a star like Anunoby.

Anunoby has been one of the NBA’s most versatile defenders for years and would help solve any defensive woes the Knicks have had this season. Alongside this, he also hits his threes at a 36.8% rate on 5.3 attempts.

Overall, he is averaging 18.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and a league-leading 2.3 steals while shooting 46.7% from the field. There truly isn’t a reason for the Knicks to decline this deal, as not only is OG Anunoby the better player than Toppin is now, but who knows if Toppin will ever be as good as him.

Verdict: Pursue

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