Raptors rout Knicks again, win 117-92 without Leonard
NEW YORK (AP) — Harder games are coming soon. In the meantime, the Raptors want to get sharper while they have things easy.
Toronto rested Kawhi Leonard, just as it did in its 128-92 victory at home on March 18, and the result was nearly as lopsided. The Raptors led by as many as 31 points, never trailed and were up by at least 15 for the entire second half.
“In this league anybody can lose to anybody, so had to come out with the same professionalism, take everybody serious and try to get better,” forward Danny Green said.
Green added 15 points on five 3-pointers for the Raptors, who also were without OG Anunoby because of lingering concussion-like symptoms after he took a hit to the head in their victory over Chicago on Tuesday.
Rookie Mitchell Robinson had season highs of 19 points and 21 rebounds for the Knicks, who lost their fifth straight and fell to 1-13 over the last month.
“Everybody wants to win. We don’t play to lose. So you get frustrated with the losing, but you’ve got to stick with the positives,” guard Emmanuel Mudiay said.
Toronto beat New York for the sixth straight time during the midst of a soft spot in its schedule. The Raptors face the Bulls again on Saturday, their first time ever playing three straight games against teams with 50 losses, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The Raptors had 32 assists on their 40 field goals and limited the Knicks to 36.5 percent shooting.
“Well, I mean you want to come into these things and play solidly defensively first of all and share the basketball, and I thought we shared it like crazy,” coach Nick Nurse said.
The Knicks started 4 for 17 and fell behind 22-10, and the game never really got much closer. Toronto led 55-36 at halftime after making 12 3-pointers while the Knicks went 1 for 13.
When New York took a timeout down 63-40 with 9 ½ minutes left in the third quarter, the Raptors had nearly as many 3-pointers (14) as the Knicks had total baskets (15).
“We can’t let missing shots affect our defense and that’s what happened tonight,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said.
Knicks guard Dennis Smith Jr. returned after a six-game absence with a sore lower back, coming off the bench and scoring seven points. Kevin Knox started but Frank Ntilikina remained out after both were hurt Sunday against the Clippers.
Raptors: Nurse said Anunoby’s absence was a little surprising, as he felt good after the game Tuesday and did quite a lot of work earlier Thursday before his symptoms came back. … Kyle Lowry was called for an offensive foul in the first half when he hit Robinson in the midsection while setting a screen. Robinson fell into Lowry’s legs while chasing a loose ball in the last matchup, a play Lowry felt was dirty that caused him to miss two games with a right ankle injury.
Knicks: Fizdale said Smith’s back still felt sore but he wanted to play anyway. … F Noah Vonleh (sprained right ankle) is at least a week away from returning, Fizdale said. … New York barely surpassed its worst first half of the season, when it managed 34 points at Utah on Dec. 29.
The Raptors are likely locked into the No. 2 seed in the East and Nurse said they feel ready to start the playoffs now. But he said they will make the most of the time they have until they do start on April 13.
“I know everybody’s like, ‘We’ve got to play all these games, let’s go.’ Well, these games are on the schedule and they’re very important for a lot of teams right now, we just don’t happen to be one of them,” Nurse said. “We’re not moving any direction probably within where we are, but it is a chance for us to do some polishing and stay positive.”
The Knicks showed a video tribute and had a moment of silence before the game for Cal Ramsey, who died Monday at 81. Ramsey starred at NYU in the 1950s and went on to play and broadcast for the Knicks and worked as a team ambassador for the last 28 years. A jersey with his name and flowers were placed on the seat behind the bench where he sat at games, and the Knicks wore a black patch on their uniform in his honor.
Raptors: Visit Chicago on Saturday.
Knicks: Host Miami on Saturday.