Carmelo Anthony won’t be with the New York Knicks on Saturday
night, but he wouldn’t have been the center of attention to Toronto
Raptors fans anyway.
Andrea Bargnani plays his first regular-season game in Toronto
since joining New York as these teams complete a home-and-home
Anthony won’t make the trip and will miss his third straight
game with a sprained left ankle. New York (9-20) fell 95-83 at home
to Toronto on Friday without him after leading by as many as 12
points in the second half.
It marked Bargnani’s first game against the team that drafted
him No. 1 overall in 2006. He finished with team highs of 18 points
and 12 rebounds, but scored just four points on 1-of-5 shooting
after halftime while missing both shots in a fourth quarter in
which the Knicks were outscored 29-12.
“He came out at halftime, he had 14 points,” coach Mike Woodson
said. “I thought he had great looks in that third and fourth
quarter. Unfortunately he was only able to get two shots (in the
Bargnani spent the first seven years of his career with Toronto
before getting shipped to New York this summer. He had 10 points in
22 minutes in a 100-91 loss at the Air Canada Centre in a preseason
game Oct. 11 in which he was booed throughout the contest – the
same treatment Raptors fans gave to Vince Carter after he left the
The Knicks were outrebounded 50-42 on Friday. Woodson indicated
that he will employ his big men differently Saturday with Amare
Stoudemire and Kenyon Martin seeing more minutes.
“I think fatigue started to set in,” Woodson said. “I played
Bargnani, I think about 37 minutes and Tyson (Chandler) was right
at 30, 32-33 minutes as well. I just got to get Kenyon and Amare
some more minutes tomorrow night and kind of ride them a little bit
and see what happens.”
Toronto coach Dwane Casey may have outmaneuvered the embattled
Woodson by using reserve John Salmons for the entire fourth
quarter. Salmons limited J.R. Smith to four points on 2-of-7
shooting in the period after the Knicks swingman scored 13 points
on 5-of-8 shooting over the first 36 minutes.
“What he’s doing on the defensive end is definitely carrying
over to the rest of us,” Raptors guard DeMar DeRozan said. “He
guards the best player and tonight it was J.R. Smith.”
Toronto (12-15) has won five of seven since the players it
acquired in the Dec. 9 deal that sent Rudy Gay to Sacramento made
their Raptors debuts.
The Atlantic Division leaders have used strong finishes in their
last three victories, winning 109-108 in overtime at Dallas last
Friday and outscoring Oklahoma City 29-14 in the fourth of Sunday’s
impressive 104-98 road victory.
”Last year we were in a ton of situations, late-game situations
we couldn’t pull out. We’d kind of fold under the pressure, get
frustrated or let a big shot frustrate us,” DeRozan said. ”Now,
we don’t let none of that get to us.”
DeRozan led Toronto with 25 points while Jonas Valanciunas
dominated Chandler inside with 16 points and a career-high 18