Not all teams are created equal.
After the Toronto Raptors’ 116-101 win over the New York Knicks, it’s hard to tell if the wide margin of victory was caused by Toronto or New York. The Raptors were impressive, with six players scoring in double digits, five of which did so after the second quarter. But, the Knicks were almost embarrassingly bad during stretches of the game, particularly when their starters were on the floor.
If Carmelo Anthony and Derrick Rose are actually still really good at basketball when they want to be, tonight clearly wasn’t a night deemed worth the effort. They rarely looked interested on the defensive end, part of what allowed the Raptors to stretch out a 15-point lead going into the second half. Offensively, they weren’t much better.
Both former stars (currency of title debatable in both cases) shot the ball well, going 50 percent from the field, but they only managed four assists combined. That means the offense isn’t flowing, when you consider that the team’s offense almost always flows through their hands.
Coach Jeff Hornacek was smart to get his ‘stars’ out of the game early in the third quarter. They weren’t helping anything, and they might as well save their energy for Monday’s clash with the Atlanta Hawks. Plus, the Knicks mounted a nice comeback without them, beating the Raptors bench guys 39-20 in Q4.
The Knicks were actually much better with Brandon Jennings in the game. Jennings isn’t the best player in the world, but he passes well, and has always played hard in the NBA despite being traded so many times. He finished with nine points and seven assists.
For the Raptors, the win was business as usual. They should have won, and they did, because they are by far the better team, with much more to play for. Even if the Knicks made the playoffs, which is doubtful at this point, do they really have championship aspirations? Hopefully not, though Rose did call his squad a super team over the summer. The Raptors aren’t particularly super, but they are the only team that might be able to mess with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and even that might be a stretch.
DeMarre Carroll is finding his place with the Raptors, after a lacklustre start to the season. He missed most of his first year in Toronto, and finding fit does take time. Now, instead of looking to him as a dynamite three-point shooter, he gets more varied touches from his point guards, mixing up long-bombs with cuts to the hoop. He finished with 20 points and two steals on 54 percent shooting.
Sure, but he’s also shooting 46% from 3 in January. https://t.co/uORkUgYV9q— (((Eric Koreen))) (@ekoreen) January 15, 2017
While he only scored right around his 12.2 point average (12), Jonas Valanciunas actually played really well. He just looks more confident, holding much more ground in the paint than fans are used to seeing from Big Science. He has 16 rebounds in his 27 minutes, easily outplaying any big the Knicks could offer.
And Big Science is teaching that formula...the beaker is bubbling. @Matt__Devlin dropping gems. Leo knows he wants to say Science.— Drizzy (@Drake) December 20, 2014
Rounding out the notable performances for the Raps, Norman Powell proved once again that he is legit. This guy could start on some teams with less riches at the guard positions. He is strong, confident and a capable shooter. He hit 54 percent of his looks, helping the Raptors’ deep bench unit not get too beat up in the fourth quarter when the game was already decided but the Knicks decided to try to play.
The Raptors next play Tuesday again the Brooklyn Nets (lol).