The Toronto Raptors, despite letting the New York Knicks hang around, were able to steady themselves in crunch time. An emotional overreaction by a young Knick allowed the Raps to stop the bleeding late in Q4, and keep the visitors at bay. Wonderful games from Kyle Lowry and Terrence Ross did not go to waste, as the Raps made fifteen 3-balls on their way to completing a sweep of the home-&-home series.
The Raps began the game sluggishly once again, but the Knicks don’t have a lot of offense they can count on, and the teams went back and forth for some time. Lowry knows a scoring vacuum when he sees one, and stepped in to provide 9 points in Q1.
The Knicks enjoyed a run in Q2, and briefly seized the lead. DeMar DeRozan, our model of consistency and effectiveness, responded with an old-fashioned 3-point play, and the Raps were never headed (though we didn’t know that at the time). The Raps lead at the half was 13, and they stretched it to 21 halfway through Q3 before the Knicks started chipping away. Amare Stoudamire came off the bench and began backing down our big men to score in the paint. He would lead his team with 23 points and 9 rebounds. [20-second timeout: I can understand why the New York press is calling for coach Mike Woodson's head. His starting backcourt of Beno Udrih and Iman Shumpert had no points in the first half. Andrea Bargnani had 12 points, but wasn't on the floor in Q4. Is it any wonder this team has fallen and can't get up?]
The Raps seemed to have the game safely in hand once Greivis Vasquez nailed his third straight 3-ball of Q4 to put the Raps in front by 17. The Knicks, to their credit, did not roll over. They scored inside and out to narrow the gap to 6 points, then Toure Murry lost his composure. As Kyle dribbled up court, Murry crumpled to the floor. Kyle stepped by him, and Murry reached up to grab him by the ankle and haul him down. An astonished Kyle kept his cool and hit the 2 free throws awarded for the Flagrant Foul. The Raps retained possession, and Kyle nailed a 3. The sellout crowd at the Air Canada Centre could breath again, as the margin was back to 11 with 3 minutes to play. Another DD basket-and-one was the final dagger.
TRoss buried 7 of 11 shots from distance, so we’ll forgive him his irksome inability to make shorter shots. Jonas Valanciunas was called for 5 fouls, several of them imaginary, so spent more time on the bench than we’d like. He still managed 9 points and 10 boards. DD will have better shooting days, but it’s hard to argue with plus-19. However, all those worthies must bow to Kyle Lowry, who poured in 32 points, and handed out 11 assists against only one turnover. He even grabbed 8 rebounds. I still can’t believe there was chatter about trading Lowry for Iman Shumpert. I wouldn’t trade him for 5 Shumperts.
Toronto, which retains the Atlantic Division lead with the win, enjoys a few days off before heading to Chicago on New Year’s Eve.
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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