The Toronto Raptors pulled out an impressive victory in New York on Monday night. The HQ has your recap on some important strides the Dinos took in the victory.
The Toronto Raptors defeated the New York Knicks 90-85 last night in what turned out to be a rather wild contest. The matchup was very much a game of runs as the Raptors dominated the first half, but couldn't maintain that level of play over the course of the entire game.
The Raptors began the game with an extremely impressive opening half, highlighted by a 29-11 advantage in the second quarter. In the half the Raptors shot 58.3% and held the Knicks to a miniscule 28.2%. This effort was by far their best of the season and especially impressive with the Raptors playing on the second night of a back-to-back. The Raps carried an impressive 51-39 lead into half time.
Bargnani set the tone early, going 4-4 in the first quarter and finishing the half 5-5 with 12 points and 3 boards. DeMar DeRozan was also big in the first half, showing a nice combination of drives to the bucket and pull-up jumpers. This mix in his game is something that has been lacking thus far this season, and it was a welcomed sight to see him mixing things up and getting back on track.
The third quarter, unfortunately, was not as kind to the Dinos- cue the Knicks comeback.
New York came charging out of the half with vengeance; going on a massive run that brought them within 3 points with the score 59-56. Toney Douglas was huge in this quarter as he buried three 3-pointers, sparking his team's comeback.
The Raptors, to their credit, did not fold like they did against Orlando; they fought back and widened their advantage back to 9 at the end of the 3rd.
The fourth quarter was battle for both teams. The Knicks gave the ball to their superstar Carmelo Anthony and just let him go to work; he finished the quarter with 13 points including some big time shots to bring New York within striking distance, but it was the Raptors that would ultimately prevail; getting some surprising help from Rasual Butler-who finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and a couple of timely shots in the fourth quarter.
In the end though, it was Andrea Bargnani that closed the game out for the Raps; first he knocked down a jumper with 46 seconds left, and then on the following possession, he baited the defense into a foul and proceeded to calmly drain both free throws that provided Raptors with the eventual victory.
Dwayne Casey leaned on Bargnani when they needed a number of important baskets and the 7 footer came through, providing some vindication for Casey who has insisted that Bargnani will be Toronto's "star" player going forward.
Despite the outstanding performances by DeRozan, Bargnani and yes, Rasual Butler, the victory really was a complete team effort. Amir Johnson was tough inside; he blocked 4 shots and was a + 13 on the night and Jose Calderon had another stellar 12 assist, 9 point output.
The Raptors showed something that I am not sure they showed a single time last season-and that is the perseverance to stave off runs from the opposing team and go out and get the victory.
This may have only been one game, but to see that type of bounce back effort out of the Raps is a good sign for the future. Dwayne Casey has clearly made an impression on this club and it will be interesting to see how the team progresses throughout the rest of the season.
The bad news is, with more efforts like this, the chances of the Raptors grabbing that number 1 pick will continue to diminish.
The Raptors will get the day off tomorrow as they turn their attention to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors host the Cavs Wednesday night at the ACC.