It wasn’t the return that RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley envisioned as the Toronto Raptors strolled into the Big Apple only to get hit by the New York Knicks freight train, getting smoked, 100-126.
It was a competitive first half, with Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett going back and forth with their former teammates, Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle. However, the Knicks’ suffocating defense caused many problems for coach Darko Rajakovic and the Raptors, compounded by several defensive lapses and questionable defensive efforts in the second half. To the Knicks’ credit, they did a good job executing their offense, often exposing the Raptors’ defensive coverage, or lack thereof.
It was a Jekyll-and-Hyde tale of two halves for the Raptors. RJ Barrett led the Raptors with 20 points, eight boards, and four dimes but was limited to five points in the second half. Immanuel Quickley added 12 points and 11 dimes but was also awfully quiet in the second half. Gary Trent Jr. scored 13 of his 16 points in the first half. Scottie Barnes finished with nine points but laid an egg in the second half. The only saving grace for the Raptors tonight is how good Gradey Dick looked with his perimeter shooting. This type of rep has always been there instead of sending him down to the Raptors 905.
Gradey Dick with 11 points, including 3/6 from three -- all of them from the corner pic.twitter.com/y1yYggKwP3— Esfandiar Baraheni (@JustEsBaraheni) January 21, 2024
Jalen Brunson led all scorers with 38 points and nine dimes. Julius Randle caused a lot of stress for the Raptors’ defense, as he tallied a triple-double, tallying 18 points, 16 boards, and 10 assists. O.G. Anunoby muscled his way to 14 points, seven boards, and three blocks, shutting down Scottie Barnes for the most part. Precious Achiuwa gifted the Knicks with his best game for the blue and orange, getting the red carpet treatment to the basket en route to 18 points on 9-for-10 shooting.
The Raptors got destroyed in the paint, getting outscored 64-50 and decimated on the boards, with the Knicks getting 61 boards to the Raptors’ 31. Perhaps the saddest part is the Raptors committing only 10 turnovers to the Knicks’ 22, but it was the Knicks who had a +17 advantage in points off turnovers.
Barnes tweaked his back early in the game, but Randle, Brunson, Barrett, and Immanuel traded blows to start the game, scoring 25 of the combined first 35 points. However, a 10-0 run fueled by the Raptors’ offense-generating defense gave the visitors a 27-16 lead. Brunson’s 5-0 run forced coach Rajakovic to call for time. However, that run extended into a 15-4 run to tie the game at 31 after the first period.
The Knicks’ suffocating defense and the Raptors’ futility from behind the arc led to a Knicks 8-1 run to start the second frame, forcing coach Rajakovic to call for an early timeout. Barnes subbed in to help the Raptors go on a 5-0 run, spooking coach Thibodeau to call for him ASAP. The Knicks got their composure back immediately, with Randle creating openings for his teammates and Anunoby putting Run A535 spots on several Raptors’ bodies.
OG Anunoby ramming through Dick in the lane pic.twitter.com/d4WTrJsDZD— Knicks Memes (@KnicksMemes) January 21, 2024
The Knicks looked like they had the momentum on their side. However, the Raptors found their perimeter shooting, with Trent Jr. and Barrett making consecutive trifectas for a quick 8-2 run, cutting the lead to one. Unfortunately, Randle hit a banker from the perimeter, but Barrett’s layup closed the half with the Raptors trailing the Knicks, 57-59.
The Knicks starters off the second half looking like they can get anything they want offensively, and it helps when they get multiple offensive rebounds every time they missed, catapulting them to a 70-61 lead. However, coach Thibodeau needed to stay on brand, and a couple of easy layups by Barrett prompted him to call a timeout. Brunson’s 6-0 run pushed the Knicks’ lead to 77-63, threatening to blow this game out, and it was the Raptors’ turn to call for time. The timeout didn’t help, as the Raptors’ offense was sloppy at best, and the defense and rebounding can be best described as putrid, allowing the Knicks to build a 19-point lead. Gradey’s back-to-back corner threes cut the Knicks’ lead to 78-92 after the third period.
The Raptors teased the fanbase by making it look like they could make it a game in the fourth, as Bruce Brown’s layup cut the Knicks’ lead to 12 to start the final period. However, a Knicks’ 12-4 run, with some help from Precious Achiuwa on both ends of the floor, pushed their lead to 20, prompting the Raptors to call for time for one last regroup. However, coach Rajakovic should’ve just raised the white flag, as his team did it for him with lacklustre effort with seven minutes remaining, with most of the starters just getting embarrassed by the Knicks’ bench at this point.
The Raptors get to go back home and lick their wounds as they get ready for the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday.