In the fourth quarter of last night’s tilt at the Air Canada Centre, the Toronto Raptors found themselves in the all-too-familiar position of trying to fight back from a substantial early deficit. The New York Knicks, led by the seemingly unstoppable Carmelo Anthony, had forged a 13-point lead by halftime. However, the streaky Alan Anderson entered The Zone, pouring in 20 points in the third quarter on his way to a career-high 35. The Raps continued to chip away, and a DeMar DeRozan 3-point play brought the home team within a pair of points. But, like so many times this season, there was no happy ending. A 3-ball from the unlikely hands of Raymond Felton was the capper on a 10-2 run, and a Knicks win was assured.
Had Anderson not found his shooting touch, the game would have been an embarrassment for Toronto. Terrence Ross and John Lucas tried ten 3-balls, to no avail. Rudy Gay’s wonky back betrayed him, and he left the game in the second quarter, not to return. His four points was a far cry from the 26 he had averaged in his previous two games. DeRozan was solid with 18 points on 7 of 14 shooting. Kyle Lowry turned in one of his better games, with 10 assists against 2 turnovers. He also nailed three 3-balls on six tries. That was half of Anderson’s total, who also enjoyed a four-point play. Jonas Valanciunas was not as dominating as I had thought he might be. Kenyon Martin schooled our rookie all night. The aging but still dangerous Martin missed only one shot of 10, and also pulled down 11 rebounds. In Q1, JV had his pocket picked by the wily Pablo Prigioni, who hid behind Kyle Lowry, then slipped in to intercept the in-bounds pass, eventually leading to an Anthony 3-ball. All this after Prigioni had scored a crazy 8 foot scoop-shot basket as the time clock sounded. Older players can make kids look bad when the youngsters get too casual.
For all the passengers the Raps had to carry (4 points for Amir Johnson?), a win might still have been attainable, but ‘Melo was too much. His 37 points, many of them scored on jump shots with Landry Fields an inch away, was the difference in this game. The Raps must hope that Rudy’s back will loosen up sufficiently to allow him to play when the season series against the Knicks concludes on Saturday night in the Big Apple.
Brian Boake is a co-editor for Raptors Rapture. “Like” Raptors Rapture on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @RaptorsRapture for all the latest news and updates about the best damn NBA team from Canada.