New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors
Post Game Recap
The Knicks once again dug themselves a deep hole they were unable to climb out of, losing in Toronto to the Raptors. The Knicks were down by more than 20 points in the second half but were able to cut it to six in the later stages of the fourth quarter. They were unable to get all the way back after a flagrant-1 was called on Tour’e Murry. Kyle Lowry knocked down both free throws and then hit a three-pointer to put the game away for the Raptors. It was too little too late for the Knicks as it once again took them getting down by a large margin before they were able to get up and compete. With the loss the Knicks drop the home-and-home with the Raptors and fall five games behind in the Atlantic Division. The Knicks will have a long time off to stew on this loss as the Knicks do not play until Thursday night in San Antonio against the Spurs as the Knicks embark on the Texas Threesome road trip.
Player of the Game: Amar’e Stoudemire
Without Carmelo Anthony playing the Knicks needed someone to step up offensively and Stoudemire answered the bell. Stoudemire gave the Knicks some good minutes off the bench, getting 30 of them on the second half of the back-to-back. STAT shot 9-12 from the field (5-6 FT) for 23 points. Stoudemire battled in the paint as well, grabbing nine rebounds and blocking two shots. With consistent minutes Stoudemire has looked good because he is back in rhythm. When he sits certain games it throws him out of sync. At this point with the Knicks shorthanded they might as well run Stoudemire out there as much as he can say he can handle and hope he continues giving efforts like he did tonight.
Tour’e Murry had the one miscue late in the fourth quarter but he was a big reason the Knicks were even within striking distance. Murry had his best game as a pro in his 14th career game. He shot 5-11 from the field and scored 11 points. He also handed out six assists and garnered three steals. He gave the Knicks some energy and effort that does not always come from some players, finishing the game with the highest +/- ratio on the team with +4. He earned himself some extra run in the coming games as a guy that will jumpstart the Knicks when he is on the court alongside fellow rookie Tim Hardaway Jr.
Without Anthony the Knicks obviously struggle a little more to score but tonight they did well putting the ball in the basket. Other players stepped up some as Stoudemire led the way with 23 and five other Knicks scored in double-figures as well; Tyson Chandler scored a season-high 16, JR Smith scored 13, Andrea Bargnani and Hardaway Jr. scored 12 each and Murry added his 11. Overall the Knicks shot 39-80 from the field, 7-21 from three-point land and 15-20 from the foul line.
Iman Shumpert has played poorly in recent games but tonight he gave one of the stat stuffing games Knicks fans had been accustomed to seeing. He went only 2-5 from the field but he added a team high eight rebounds and two assists. He also added a steal and block and was only one of three players to finish the game with a positive +/- ratio in a Knicks uniform along with Stoudemire and Murry.
Mike Woodson is a favorite of mine in the negatives section but tonight he found some players who will give him energy on the court in Murry, Stoudemire and Hardaway Jr. He still gave JR Smith a little more freedom than you would like but he did stick to the players who were giving the Knicks a chance tonight and it was a refreshing thing to see from a team that has lacked passion seemingly all season.
It is like beating a dead horse but as long as it keeps happening it will continue ending up in this section. The Knicks perimeter defense is horrendous and there are no signs of it ever getting stronger. Tonight Kyle Lowry stepped up the aggressiveness offensively. He iced the game with the five-point swing mentioned in the lead but was torching the Knicks before then as well. Tonight Lowry shot 10-17 from the field (4-7 3pt, 8-10 FT) for a game high 32 points. He also added 11 assists, just showing off at that point what could have been for the Knicks had James Dolan not stepped in and vetoed the trade.
Lowry was not the only perimeter player to hurt the Knicks tonight as he had help from his fellow starting perimeter players. DeMar DeRozan did not score as efficiently as last night but he did end the night with 20 points again. Who really hurt the Knicks was Terrence Ross, who found his spot in the corner and knocked down three pointer after three pointer. On the night Ross knocked down 7-11 from deep en route to 23 points. He added four rebounds, one assist and two steals as well. For the night the Raptors, who average only seven three-point makes per game, knocked down 15-32 three-point attempts.
The Knicks were out rebounded once again and there was no bigger omission from the Knicks rebounding stats than Chandler. Chandler managed to grab only two defensive rebounds in the game, a sign of how much a mess the Knicks defense really is. Having to help out defenders as often as he does and the annoyance of the Knicks to switch every pick Chandler is out of position to rebound and closer to the three-point line than the basket. This enables the other teams bigs to grab easy offensive rebounds as the Raptors did tonight, grabbing 13 for the night. Bargnani only grabbed four as the Knicks “big lineup” plays smaller than their small lineup.
Bargnani was seen holding an ice pack late in the game but once again he was a no-show down the stretch. Bargnani shows aggressiveness and asserts himself early in the game but as the game goes on he starts being seen less and less. The Knicks need him to stay aggressive, especially with Anthony sidelined. With Bargnani not being aggressive players further and further down the pecking order are expected to score, which makes for the Knicks struggling more than they should be. Bargnani wasn’t the only starter to essentially get benched in crunch time as Beno Udrih was all of his minutes in the fourth quarter to Murry.