Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks
Post Game Recap
In the last game of the season for each team, the New York Knicks were able to end the season on a high note, defeating the Toronto Raptors 95-92. It was a strong finish to a disappointing season for the Knicks, who won four straight to end the season, even though they had been eliminated from the playoffs prior to the final three. It was nice to see the Knicks play with some heart and pride, as all four games they won to end the season came against playoff teams that were still playing for seeding. Here are some takeaways from the last game of the season for the Knicks, who will be watching the playoffs from home like the fans.
Player of the Game: J.R. Smith
With absolutely nothing to play for but stats, this is the type of game you would expect Smith to take an absurd amount of shots. Instead, he showed a lot of leadership in not only playing, but playing within the flow of the game. Smith knocked down 13-19 from the field,
including 2-5 from deep and 2-4 from the foul line, en route to a game-high 30 points. Smith was a terror on the defensive end, getting five steals in the game as well to go with four rebounds and one assist. It was encouraging to see Smith finally get going for the Knicks the last quarter of the season, but it was too late for the team to turn it into a playoff appearance.
The fact the Knicks had nothing to play for, while the Raptors did speaks volumes to just how hard they played. The Raptors led by as many as 19-points in the first half, yet the Knicks kept at it, keeping the energy level high. In a surprise, the Knicks actually dominated the third quarter, winning 30-17 to tie the game heading into the fourth quarter. The defense in the second half was outstanding, as the Raptors were held to 35 points. It speaks volume to the character of the players the Knicks used tonight that they were able to battle back in the fashion they did.
Amar’e Stoudemire was able to play and make it through the game unscathed. It was encouraging to see Stoudemire choose to play, showing leadership that even he, king of the knee injury, could go out there and suit up for the fans in a meaningless game. Stoudemire was a bright spot for the Knicks this season, and looks to be a piece that can help them next season.
Cole Aldrich played heavy minutes with so many players sitting this one out, and he put together a monster game. In 40 minutes, Aldrich recorded his second consecutive double-double, scoring 13 points with 16 rebounds. He was a presence on the defensive end all night, accumulating two steals and five blocks. Aldrich has shown time and time again this season he is a competent rim protector and can grab rebounds in bunches. He should be given every opportunity to be the backup big next season for the Knicks.
Toure’ Murry was given extended minutes once again, and looked much more comfortable than he did against the Brooklyn Nets the previous night. Against the Raptors, Murry scored 15 points, making 6-12 from the field and knocking down both his three point attempts. He also added two rebounds and two assists. Whenever Murry is on the court he has shown the ability to be a lockdown defender, and with consistent minutes useful offensively. He is something the Knicks should keep around and continue to develop as his defensive prowess is a weapon they can use to their advantage.
Iman Shumpert’s final game of the season epitomized his whole season. He finished the game 1-10 from the field, showing the maddening inconsistency he has had throughout the whole 2013-2014 campaign. He was able to help out in other areas, as he grabbed four rebounds, handed out two assists, swiped two steals and had one block. It is nice that Shumpert can impact the game in other ways, but his inconsistent play on the offensive end hurt the Knicks.
This is the last time we will see the Knicks this season. It is disappointing that is coming to an end, especially with how well they finished out the season. It makes you think what could have been, as the Knicks ended the game with a four game winning streak, and all the wins coming against playoff teams. The Knicks were never able to shake their poor play from the beginning of the season, and in the end have no one to blame but themselves for missing the post season.