Despite a strong performance from Mitchell Robinson, the Knicks were shredded by the Raptors in another loss at MSG.

If you were to describe New York’s performance with a single meme, it would be the photo of Will Smith, playing his Fresh Prince character, with his hands out and the words “I ain’t even mad” in a big, white block font under him.

That’s because the Toronto Raptors (53-23) simply outclassed the New York Knicks (14-61), 117-92. Even without all-world forward Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors were able to build a double-digit lead, extend it to 20 points, and park the bus for most of the second half. With the loss, New York moves to 0-4 on the team’s six-game home stand.

The Knicks are bad, but it really wasn’t their fault in this performance.

On one hand, New York’s 28th-ranked defense made things easy for the Raptors. Toronto shot 46 percent from three in the first half, making 12 total threes. The Knicks continued to fall for pump fakes and sunk into the perimeter as Jeremy Lin and Kyle Lowry attacked the paint. That allowed the likes of Danny Green, Pascal Siakam, and Norm Powell to bomb from beyond the arc.

Siakam led all scorers with 31 points, five rebounds, and five assists. Guard Fred VanVleet finished with 12 points and eight assists on 4-of-9 shooting from three-point range. Forward Serge Ibaka finished with a double-double: 10 points, 10 rebounds, and two blocks.

Simply put: it’s tough to beat a team, any team, when they play a near-perfect game like Toronto did.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Raptors had four total turnovers, finishing with eight for the game. They didn’t register a turnover until a Kyle Lowry offensive foul with 7:55 left in the second quarter. Despite shooting 39 percent from the field, New York’s poor defense allowed Toronto to build a strong lead before halftime.

The Knicks didn’t do much on the offensive end either, shooting 31 percent from the field in the first half and 37 percent for the game. At one point, Kevin Knox and Damyean Dotson had consecutive traveling turnovers. It was a disaster that clearly got to some of the players.

The second half was merely a stretch of survival for the Knicks—which is, sadly, the norm on this home stand.

Mitchell Robinson finished with 19 points, 21 rebounds, and two blocks—the first two figures were new career highs for the rookie center. Robinson is only the second Knicks rookie with 21 rebounds, the second being Willis Reed in the 1964–65 season. Guard Kadeem Allen finished with 18 points and two assists, while Emmanuel Mudiay finished with 11 points.

Let’s go to some notes.

  • I don’t want the Knicks to win, but they certainly could use one. It was a rough night with multiple players frustrated. This loss stung because of the way Toronto won, but as the Knicks inch near clinching the worst record, a win—especially a home win—could be a nice little morale boost as they head into the offseason.
  • Welcome back, Dennis Smith Jr. The second-year guard got 20 minutes and outside of getting to the basket, looked like himself. I liked the Allen-Smith backcourt, as it got some creation going and really got the bigs working. DSJ got into the paint several times, but couldn’t do really anything with it. Putting him on a minutes cap, if healthy, would be good, just to see where he’s at to end the season.

  • Kadeem Allen was a +7 somehow in this game. He picked up three fouls in six minutes and finished with four fouls in 19 minutes. He’s not a great NBA defender but knows where to be. He’s not an explosive guard but constantly gets past his opponent. I enjoy his play.

The Knicks remain home to host the Miami Heat (37-38) in what will be Dwyane Wade’s last game against New York. The game is set for Saturday, March 30th at 7:30 p.m ET.

 

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