Raptors blow out Knicks while giving injured Kyle Lowry a breather
The Raptors gave All-Star guard Kyle Lowry the day off against the NBA’s worst team and wound up winning easily.
That’s not how it happened the last time Toronto faced the New York Knicks.
DeMar DeRozan scored 23 points, Tyler Hansbrough added a season-high 18 and the Raptors won for the third time in four games, beating the Knicks 106-89 on Sunday afternoon.
Lowry, who dressed but did not play in Friday’s loss at Chicago, was inactive after hurting his back in a fall against Minnesota last Wednesday. Greivis Vasquez made his second straight start in Lowry’s place.
”That’s our point guard, one of the leaders on this team,” DeRozan said of his absent teammate. ”It’s definitely tough when you know you don’t have him out there. That’s when everybody else has to step up and do a little bit more to help us win.”
Hansbrough certainly did, going 7 of 8 from the field and 4 of 5 at the free throw line.
”Just his intensity, his activity, his energy, got us going,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.
Lowry also sat when the Raptors visited New York on Feb. 28, but the Atlantic Division leaders couldn’t beat the Knicks that night, losing 103-98. DeRozan didn’t need to be reminded.
”That was another focus point that we had to key in on,” DeRozan said of Toronto’s search for vengeance. ”We’ve got to use stuff like that to motivate us and keep us focused even more.”
Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and 10 rebounds, Lou Williams scored 13 points and Vasquez had 12 as Toronto improved to 11-2 against Atlantic Division opponents.
Lance Thomas scored a career-high 24 points and former Raptor Andrea Bargnani had 16 for the Knicks, who dropped their third straight and lost for the 10th time in 12 games.
”Lance was aggressive at the right times,” New York coach Derek Fisher said.
New York guard Alexey Shved, who came in averaging 22 points in his previous three games, bruised his ribs in a collision with Toronto’s James Johnson in the first half and was unable to return. He finished with nine points in 17 minutes.
The Knicks also lost rookie Travis Wear to a sore back in the fourth.
”As we were losing bodies and also playing from behind all afternoon, it was just a tough go,” Fisher said.
Leading 78-72, Toronto put the game away with a 12-0 run early in the final quarter. Terrence Ross started it with a three-point play, Hansbrough made a pair of free throws, Williams hit a floater before adding three from the line, and Johnson capped the spurt with a reverse layup.
DeRozan scored 10 points in the first, including a pair of one-handed dunks, as the Raptors led 27-23.
Hansbrough scored nine points as Toronto pulled away with a 20-8 spurt to begin the second. DeRozan’s only basket of the quarter was a buzzer-beating jump shot that gave the Raptors a 56-41 lead at halftime.
Thomas scored nine points in the third, five of them during a 9-2 run to begin the quarter, as New York brought the deficit back to single digits. The Knicks trailed 74-66 heading to the fourth.
Knicks: Tim Hardaway Jr. (right wrist) and Cleanthony Early (left ankle) sat for the fourth straight game. … G Ricky Ledo, who signed a 10-day contract last week, made his Knicks debut. … New York hasn’t won the season series with Toronto since 2010-11.
Raptors: Hansbrough’s previous high was 12, set against Oklahoma City on Nov. 4. … DeRozan, who played for the U.S. team that won gold at the 2014 Basketball World Cup, received his championship ring in a pregame ceremony.
A former No. 1 overall draft pick whose Toronto career fizzled after injuries and poor play, Bargnani was booed during player introductions and on nearly every touch. The Italian big man insisted, however, that the chilly reception didn’t bother him. ”I’m cool, I’m very cool,” Bargnani said. ”That doesn’t bother me at all.”
Casey became the second coach to reach 300 games with the Raptors, joining Sam Mitchell. Casey is 147-153 since taking over as Toronto’s coach before the 2011-12 season. He’s nine victories away from matching Mitchell’s team record.