Toronto handed the Knicks a 104-87 loss on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre. The matchup marked the first time these two sides will meet within a week. Kyle Lowry finished with a 22 point, 10 assist double-double, ending just two rebounds shy of a triple-double. The Raps are now winners of three straight, averaging over 120 PPG through that stretch. All three of those wins have come against teams with positive records heading into the clash.
Toronto outscored the visiting Knicks - playing only their fifth road game of the campaign - 30-18 after a first quarter typified by the smothering of Knicks superstar, Kristaps Porzingis. While defensively, the lanky Latvian was being doubled on seemingly every post-up, Toronto was pushing the pace on offence, taking advantage of easy transition buckets. The Raptors held New York to 23.1% from the field in the first quarter, while shooting 50% themselves.
The Raptors carried a 54-36 lead into the half on the back of stingy defence and effective ball movement. Lowry’s 16 points lead all scorers through 24 minutes. In addition to putting the ball through the hoop, Lowry was getting his teammates involved in the act.
Pascal Siakam provided energy from the onset in the absence of Serge Ibaka. In addition to pestering Porzingis on defense, Siakam capitalized on easy looks by running the floor - good for 13 points. Despite struggling with his shot from deep, his mere presence on the court makes Toronto a difficult team to match up with. His five assists were beaten only by Lowry and DeRozan for Toronto.
New York’s second half comeback was carried by an explosive three-point shooting quarter, going 5-7 from the land beyond. Tim Hardaway Jr. provided a scoring spark with eight in the frame accompanied by impressive defensive intuitiveness. The Knicks would outscore Toronto 28-24 in the quarter, cutting their deficit to 14 heading to the fourth.
The Raptors would rebound after conceding an early fourth quarter run with the re-insertion of the starting unit. A late run featuring Lowry, Siakam, and Poeltl put the game far out of reach down the stretch.
These two teams will meet again on Wednesday in New York. In the meantime, New York travels back home to take on the Clippers, while Toronto awaits their visitors from Washington.