The Toronto Raptors are enjoying keeping the fans on their toes. These back and forth leads throughout the entire game definitely give us something to watch as well as, keep an eye on the score. However, always being down by double figures by the end of the second quarter then regaining the lead won’t be the best strategy one day. Against better teams, the "comeback" will fail.
But tonight it didn't matter as the Dinos came back against the New York Knicks for a 95 to 83 win.
Toronto had a slow start to tonight’s game against the Knicks. With multiple turnovers and missed free throws, the Raptors were trailing by eight points by the end of the first quarter. Carmelo Anthony wasn’t playing for the Knicks due to a sprained ankle and Tyson Chandler had two offensive fouls in the first minutes of the game. Still, the Raps couldn’t capitalize on their absences.
Kyle Lowry took two charges against Tyson Chandler and Iman Shumpert, which took both starters out of the game. Then Lowry did it again, drawing a foul from Kenyon Martin. Lowry stepped up and made some big plays in attempting to keep the Raps in it mentally early on. Unfortunately, the Raptors constantly lost their checks on defense and were closing out late on shooters throughout the second quarter. Each defensive rotation led to open looks for the Knicks and early on, it was Andrea Bargnani of all people who was doing the most damange. He had 14 points and collected 9 rebounds in the first half alone. This was a first for Bargnani who usually only averages out 5 rebounds a game. The open looks and great ball movement also opened things up from long range and J.R. Smith made them pay. The second quarter ended with a score of 49-40 for the New York.
To start the third, DeMar DeRozan knocked down some shots assisted from Lowry to close the gap and begin the third with a bit more energy. Nonetheless, rebounding was a not a main focus for the Raptors and the Knicks widened the gap again. Tyler Hansbrough is a strong and hard working player, but sometimes his strength simply appears to be out of control. Hansbrough picked up four fouls in 12 minutes of play in the first three quarters. He battles everyone down low, but hopefully he can continue to play his game without attaining so many fouls.
The Raptors two-man trap right after half court worked wonders towards the end of the third. The pressure seemed to frazzle the Knicks, and led to rushed shots. Toronto capitalized on the opportunity and had many successful offensive possessions to end the quarter. The Raptors finished the third quarter only behind by five points.
The first lead of the second half began with a John Salmon’s three point shot assisted from Lowry. Salmons lit it up in the fourth quarter with his corner three-point shots and gave the Raps a confidence boost. Salmons ended the game with 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists and was key in getting his club going late.
As well, DeRozan added to the Raptors lead in the fourth with multiple pull up jumpers that he seemed to be missing all game until that point. During the final quarter, New York couldn’t stop Toronto’s offense and let Jonas Valanciunas dominate in the paint. Bargnani dropped off in the second half by only scoring 4 points and collecting 3 rebounds. (Classic.) The Raptors were uncontested from beyond the arc late, hit some key shots, and overall outrebounded the Knicks 50 to 42.
The game ended with a final score of 95-83.
DeRozan finished with 25 points and 4 rebounds, Valanciunas with a double double of 16 points and 18 rebounds. And finally, Lowry finished the game with 15 points, 4 rebounds and 11 assists.
Sarah’s Eye: favorite moment of the game, Johnson tipped the ball in the hoop and watched it go in as he fell to the floor. Great play!