The Toronto Raptors were home tonight welcoming the New York Knicks (and Spike Lee!) for Giants of Africa night. The Knicks have been performing pretty well this season, with an 11-7 record coming into tonight’s match. Of course this also marked the home coming of RJ Barrett of the Canadian National Basketball team — his first since winning a bronze medal at the 2023 FIBA World Cup this summer.
The Raptors went with their usual starting five of Schroder, Barnes, Siakam, Anunoby, and Poeltl. The Knicks started Barrett, Julius Randle, Robinson, Jalen Brunson, and Quentin Grimes.
Christian Koloko remained out with respiratory issues, while Gradey Dick was a late scratch due to illness. Darko Rajakovic commented that Gradey felt unwell after the Raptors 905 game today (in which he played well) and was sent home to rest.
In the first quarter, the Raptors played good defence but were not getting as many opportunities to convert. The Knicks were able to get the edge on them and get ahead, and Toronto’s shots were not falling as well as they did the other night against Phoenix. The Knicks were up 34-26 by the end of the first. The Knicks were winning the battle inside the paint, scoring 20 points as opposed to the Raptors 12. They also topped the Raptors in bench points, and second chance points. The Knicks finished the first quarter with zero turnovers as opposed to the Raptors three.
The second quarter brought with it the Scottie and the bench lineup we have come to expect. After Wednesday’s win against the Suns, Scottie mentioned that playing in that lineup allowed him to play more as a facilitator. He thrived in those minutes last game.
Tonight he started strong, shooting 7-7 from the field and 1-1 from three to start, with 15 points, four rebounds and two assists in the first half. Siakam also had 15 points, paired with six rebounds and one assist.
At halftime it was all tied up, 57-57.
The third quarter started with an offensive drought from the Raptors, allowing the Knicks to get the slight advantage. New York was winning the bench points battle. It was none other than Scottie Barnes who came in with a quick bucket and then a three to bring the Raptors back within one possession.
Yet, a turnover and a three pointer was all New York needed to get ahead, and they put up a 13 point gap between them and Toronto by the end of the third quarter. Raptors were down 90-77.
Raptors are shooting 1-for-7 from the floor to start the 3rd quarter.— Keerthika Uthayakumar (@keerthikau) December 2, 2023
They're 0-for-6 from three.
The Raptors were gonna need Scottie: Dawg Edition to come out in the fourth if they wanted a chance to come back and win.
Scottie was actually having a fantastic night, with 27 points, nine rebounds and three assists part-way through the fourth. The factor making the Raptors struggle was the fact that Barnes and Siakam were the only Raptors in double digit scoring. Unlike the Phoenix game, where everyone contributed, tonight was the opposite.
Scottie with another star performance.— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) December 2, 2023
25 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 threes on 11-16 shooting (and counting)
Just someone else needs to help him and Pascal.
In the end, the Raptors couldn’t recover from the onslaught of offence coming from the Knicks. That third quarter slide did them in, paired with the lack of scoring and slip in defence from the Raptors.
In the end, the Raptors lose to the Knicks 119-106.
Three Point Battle
The Knicks victory tonight was caused mostly by the way they absolutely destroyed the Raptors when it came to shooting — especially from three. The Knicks shot 44.4% from three (16-36) while the Raptors shot 18.8% (6-32) from three. That’s a 30 point difference from three alone.
Though the field goal discrepancy was not as bad — The Knicks shot 50% from the field as opposed to the Raptors 44% from the field — the Raptors still missed quite a few attempts, making 44 out of their 100 attempts.
The Raptors also failed to defend the perimeter very well (obviously a reason they were able to score so many three point shots tonight). Unfortunately their defence from the first quarter didn’t translate as well in the rest of the game.
Another factor to this Raptors loss was the bench contributions. The Raptors bench contributed 25 points, while the Knicks bench scored over double that at 52 points. While the Suns win the other day was in large part because of the all-around effort from both the starters and the bench.
That is even considering the fact that the Knicks only went four players deep into their bench while the Raptors went five players deep. Three of those four Knicks bench players were in double digits, while the Raptors only had one bench player with more than ten — Chris Boucher at 11 points.
Despite his best efforts, Scottie Barnes couldn’t carry the team to a win tonight. He scored 29 points, nine rebounds, four assists, five steals, and one block. He shot 13-19 from the field and 3-7 from three, while also being heavily involved in defence. His confidence just continues to shine through in every game.
29 pts / 9 rbs / 4 asts / 5 stls / 1 blk— Samson Folk (the coach) (@samfolkk) December 2, 2023
13-19 FG / 3-7 from 3
If you’re taking anything out of this rocky Raptors season start, let it be this young man. He is absolutely growing into the franchise cornerstone the Raptors want (and desperately need) him to be. He’s still only 22 years old, and already playing with such magnetism that it’s hard not to make every recap, preview, post, opinion, and tweet about him.
What the Raptors need is the ability to help him (and Pascal Siakam) out. The best Raptor wins have come from the nights where Scottie performs like THIS, but also has the support of the starters AND the bench. The nights where the Raptors click, they really CLICK, yet when they don’t it’s so apparent and tough to watch.
Barnes said postgame the team took a lot of great shots tonight, just hoped more of them would fall.
The Raptors now have four days off before they take on the Miami Heat at home — the first of their two recently scheduled NBA Cup consolation games. Darko mentioned postgame taking the time over these next four days to refocus and regroup before heading into the rest of December.