Raptors beat Knicks in opener of home-and-home
Road crowds and fourth-quarter deficits are suddenly no problem
for the Toronto Raptors, who have turned from chokers to
”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,” guard DeMar DeRozan
said. ”Now, we don’t let none of that get to us.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds,
DeRozan scored 25 and the Raptors rallied for a 95-83 victory over
the New York Knicks on Friday night.
The Raptors trailed by 12 points in the third quarter but
outscored the Knicks 29-12 in the fourth to take the opener of a
”Second half we picked it up defensively and offensively. We
got the ball up the floor a little bit faster, picked up the pace
in that third and fourth quarter, and really made a charge down the
stretch,” point guard Kyle Lowry said.
Lowry had 15 points and 11 assists for the Atlantic Division
leaders, who host the Knicks on Saturday with a chance to extend
their lead to five games over last season’s division champions.
Andrea Bargnani had 18 points and 12 rebounds against his former
team. Beno Udrih finished with 15 points and 10 assists for the
Knicks, who played again without Carmelo Anthony because of a
sprained left ankle.
Anthony was hurt Monday and had hoped to play against Oklahoma
City on Christmas, but instead might be out until the new year.
Knicks coach Mike Woodson said Anthony likely wouldn’t travel with
the team to Toronto for the rematch.
The Raptors won for the fifth time in their last six road games,
this one adding to a recent stretch of impressive fourth-quarter
performances. The Raptors started the fourth with an 11-0 run in an
overtime victory at Dallas on Dec. 20, then outscored Oklahoma City
29-14 on Sunday while handing the Thunder their first home
Toronto shot 9 of 18 in the fourth quarter, held the Knicks to 5
of 19 and had a 16-9 rebounding advantage.
”Fourth quarter we just couldn’t get a win. We couldn’t get
stops. They played well down the stretch,” said the Knicks’ Amare
Stoudemire, wearing a brace over what he said was a jammed right
wrist from the previous game but adding he expected to play
John Salmons’ 3-pointer gave Toronto the lead for good with 8:07
left, and DeRozan followed with a jumper. After J.R. Smith’s
basket, Salmons made another 3 before Valanciunas scored to make it
Valanciunas had a three-point play that made it 91-81 with 2:01
Despite the Knicks’ miserable 9-20 record, Woodson has continued
to point their focus toward the division title. The Knicks thought
for most of the game they would cut their deficit to two games, but
instead headed north of the border down four.
”It’s just disappointing because I felt like we had the game in
control for a big part of the game. And then kind of let it dwindle
away fourth quarter, it’s pretty disheartening,” center Tyson
Despite playing without Anthony and point guard Raymond Felton,
the Knicks jumped out to a strong start. Toronto fought back to
take a 37-36 lead with 3:17 to go in the second, but the Knicks
outscored the Raptors 13-3 the rest of the half, with Smith’s
second 3-pointer during that span coming with 4.5 seconds left and
giving New York a 49-40 lead.
The Knicks extended it to 61-49 on Tim Hardaway Jr.’s 3-pointer
with 7:17 remaining in the third, but the Raptors had it down to
71-66 by the end of the period before controlling the fourth.
Smith had 17 points and Hardaway added 15.
NOTES: Saturday’s game is the last of 2013 for the Knicks, who
are off until visiting San Antonio, Houston and Dallas from Jan.
2-5. … Woodson wouldn’t comment on an ESPN.com report that
Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan met with the team
Thursday and told players there were no trades or coaching changes
forthcoming. Knicks forward Metta World Peace, who played despite a
sore left knee, said he wasn’t there and couldn’t comment because
he was an alien. ”I was in another galaxy yesterday with my
galactic friends,” he said. … Toronto and New York will have
played eight times in 2013. The Raptors only faced Orlando