Raptors coach Dwane Casey came up with just the thing to slow down the surging New York Knicks: a zone.
DeMar DeRozan scored 30 points before leaving with a sore left ankle, Andrea Bargnani had 21 and the Raptors routed the Knicks 96-79 Friday night, snapping New York’s five-game winning streak.
”The zone knocked us on our heels,” Knicks center Tyson Chandler said. ”We had trouble finding ways to score against it, and that really was the outcome because we never got a rhythm or momentum.”
Chandler said Toronto’s zone was similar to the one he played under Casey when both were with Dallas during last season’s championship run.
”It’s designed to force you to take jump shots and we kind of fell into the trap,” Chandler said.
The results weren’t pretty. New York shot just 32 for 85 (38 percent), and no Knicks player made more than six field goals.
”Everybody struggled to make shots, and I mean wide open shots,” New York coach Mike Woodson said. ”I thought we moved the ball, but we just couldn’t make shots and defensively we couldn’t get stops. That’s a bad combination.”
The Raptors, who had lost seven of 10 coming in, never trailed and led by as many as 22, avenging a 106-87 loss at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday.
”That was good to see, especially after the spanking they put on us down in New York,” Casey said. ”I was really proud of the way our guys came out.”
Losing for the first time in six games since replacing Mike D’Antoni, Woodson didn’t feel the same way about his team’s effort.
”I just didn’t see energy tonight,” Woodson said. ”We were a step slow from the very beginning. We’ve got to play at a much higher level than we did tonight.”
Gary Forbes scored 19 points, one shy of his career-high, and Jose Calderon had 10 assists as Toronto snapped a three-game skid. Forbes said the Raptors ”played with a chip on our shoulder.”
”They kicked out butt in New York,” said Forbes, who scored 14 in the final quarter. ”Coach reiterated how we got punked and had to come in here and protect our home court.”
DeRozan fell hard after a collision with Calderon with 2:59 left, then got up and hobbled straight to the locker room. Afterward, however, he said the injury wasn’t as serious as it looked.
”I came down and tweaked my ankle a little bit,” DeRozan said. ”It was just a little scare. It’s a little sore right now and I just had it treated, try to get it ready for the game (at Chicago on Saturday night).”
Amar’e Stoudemire scored 17 points, Steve Novak had 15 and Carmelo Anthony 12 for the Knicks, who came in having won six of seven against the Raptors, including three straight in Toronto.
Jeremy Lin made a game-winning three-pointer on New York’s last visit to Toronto, a 90-87 victory on Feb. 14, but was held in check this time, finishing with just six points. Hundreds of fans cheered Lin with signs and Taiwanese flags, but many in the crowd booed whenever he touched the ball.
Lin had as much trouble with the zone as his teammates.
”We didn’t necessarily attack as much as we should have,” he said. ”It’s something we really don’t have a lot of plays for, so we kind of just float around the outside and end up settling for a lot of jumpers.”
Trailing by 17 to start the fourth, the Knicks opened with a 7-0 run, including a three-point play by J.R. Smith and a three from Novak. Forbes stopped the run with a pair of baskets before Novak added another three.
The Knicks scored just one basket in the next four minutes as Toronto surged ahead. Bargnani and DeRozan had consecutive dunks, forcing a New York timeout. After the stoppage, DeRozan dunked off Forbes’ alley-oop off the glass before Forbes forced a steal and drove in for a layup, making it 86-65 with 4:54 left.
Tempers nearly flared in the first after Bargnani leveled Lin with a screen and Anthony responded by hauling down Calderon on a drive to the basket. Calderon got up yelling, and Raptors center Aaron Gray gave Anthony a hard shove. Both Gray and Anthony got technicals, while Bargnani was whistled for an offensive foul.
More words were exchanged in the tunnel as the teams left the court after the final buzzer, but Chandler downplayed the incident.
”That kind of happens,” he said. ”You get edgy sometimes when you lose a game you felt like you were supposed to win. Emotions run high.”
Bargnani and DeRozan each scored nine in the first and Anthony shot just 2 for 7 as Toronto led 25-16 after one period.
Novak hit a three at the halftime buzzer but the Raptors, who did not trail in the first two quarters, took a 39-36 lead into the locker room.
DeRozan scored 14 points in the third, two on an impressive alley-oop from James Johnson and two more on a rebound and jumper with less than two seconds left, as the Raptors took a 70-53 lead into the fourth.
NOTES: Stoudemire wore a gray hoodie during early warmups, a sign of support for the family of Florida shooting victim Trayvon Martin. … Chandler led New York with 11 rebounds. … New York made 22 turnovers, leading to 22 Toronto points. … Knicks F Jared Jeffries, who left Wednesday’s win at Philadelphia with a sore left knee, is expected to undergo an MRI Saturday morning and will likely miss that evening’s game against Detroit. … Raptors G Jerryd Bayless (left hip) didn’t play. Casey said Bayless will likely sit out Saturday’s game at Chicago. … Toronto waived F Rasual Butler earlier Friday. Butler hadn’t played in eight games. … For the first time in franchise history, a Raptors game was broadcast in Mandarin. Former Chinese Olympic basketball player Weiping Zhang handled play-by-play duties for the national broadcast on OMNI, a Canadian multicultural station.