Dec 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors shooting guard DeMar DeRozan (10) dunks over New York Knicks power forward Andrea Bargnani (77) during the first quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Raps 95 - New York Knicks 83: Bad game, good result

The Toronto Raptors, in danger of slipping into their nasty habit of playing down to their opponent, nearly gave away a victory last night. However, the New York Knicks folded in the fourth quarter, scoring a risible 12 points. The Raps offense, on life support early, returned to full health with a 29-point Q4, more than enough to secure another come-from-behind road win.

Dec 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Toronto Raptors center Jonas Valanciunas (17) drives on New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler (6) during the third quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In need of a quick start to shake off the Christmas rust, the Raps didn’t get one. Instead, they played like they were locked out of the house during the recent ice storm. Slow-footed and clumsy, the Raps turned over the ball at an alarming rate. New York wasn’t lighting up the scoreboard either, but were getting enough from Andrea Bargnani (rats!) to nudge ahead. Even the Raps’ normally reliable free-throw shooting wasn’t, as they managed only 8 of 13. The Raps scraped together 40 points in the first half, and even managed to grab a momentary lead late in Q2. The Knicks went on a 13-3 run to go into intermission up 9.

J.R. Smith, who’s been roasted in the press lately, rediscovered his shot. He made 3 of 4 tries from distance, and ended the half with 11 points. Bargnani was always a decent one-on-one defender in Toronto (though dismal as a helper), and showed his skill with 2 blocked shots.

The Raps were sloppy to open the second half, and a 3-ball by Tim Hardaway Jr. (why the Knicks don’t make this guy a starter is beyond me – they got a donut from Iman Shumpert) pushed the home team’s lead to 12. Cue the comeback, as Terrence Ross hit a 3 of his own. The Raps managed to whittle the margin to five, as the Knicks’ shooting was off. That trend continued in Q4, with the visitors taking the lead on a welcome 3-ball by John Salmons. DeMar DeRozan, solid all night, then blocked Hardaway’s layup at the rim, and eventually hit a short jumper to give the Raps some breathing room. The threadbare Knicks attack never threatened to regain the lead, and resorted to fouling, which the Raps were happy to take advantage of.

Jonas Valanciunas was a force all night, grabbing 18 rebounds and scoring 16 points. DD needed only 13 shots to score a game-high 25 points. The second unit’s fine defensive play was somewhat obscured by their shabby shooting. Greivis Vasquez, Patrick Patterson and Tyler Hansbrough combined were 2 of 15. Those of you who are expecting Vasquez to render Kyle Lowry’s services redundant may be waiting a while. Kyle enjoyed another strong game, with 15 points and 11 assists.

For New York, Bargnani had a double-double, and Smith scored 17. Beno Udrih, the starting point guard, chipped in 15 points, 10 assists and 4 steals. Other than Hardaway, the rest of the Knicks might as well have stayed in the dressing room.

Both teams flew to Toronto last night, where they will renew acquaintances at the Air Canada Centre.

Brian Boake is Senior 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.

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Tags: Andrea Bargnani DeMar DeRozan Jonas Valanciunas New York Knicks Toronto Raptors

  • hoopsgirlforever

    Rudy’s trade to the Kings is the gift that keeps on giving! Like a transfusion, it is great to see TRoss coming alive (can’t blame that on Rudy though as Ross’ game had been in the toilet since his win in the Dunk Contest). It is also great to see JV do want we know he’s capable of…when he’s not the victim of every specious whistle. This is a young man who will keep learning and keep improving; we may be watching the development of the first Raptor into the Hall of Fame. DD and AJ just keep doing what they have always done, they provide such heart and help the fans keep the faith. Finally, Kyle has done what I never thought he could do: he is playing his way into being a fan favourite.

    Rudy has found a team that works for his game. In Toronto, he seemed to be a vacuum for every shot opportunity, for every play. The team is far better without a “star”.

    Last word to this verbose comment: Wonderful to see Bargnani play like he’s happy. In the back to backs against the Raptors, I thought he played very well defensively, was moving better than I’d seen in years and when the rest of the Knicks get used to the idea of putting the ball in his hands, we may see his scoring reach its potential. Was there anything sweeter than his 3 point shot?

    • Newmarket_Brian

      Hi hoopsgirl:
      “The gift that keeps on giving” – so true. Getting rid of Rudy may prove to be an even more striking example of addition by subtraction than dumping Bargnani was. As you say, Quincy will be missed; I grumble about why he had to be added to the trade when his salary is so minuscule compared to Rudy’s. Perhaps the Kings insisted…? Our bench is definitely much improved, though.
      JV is only going to get better,as is Terrence. I’m not sure whose 3-ball shot is purer, his or Bargnani’s. We can agree that they are things of beauty.
      Thanks for commenting.