The woes continue as the New York Knicks drop their fourth straight game, a road loss to the Toronto Raptors.
New York Knicks (25-23) have now lost four straight, with their 126-116 loss to the Toronto Raptors (21-27). For the Raptors, Fred VanVleet finished with 28 points, three assists and four made threes, while Gary Trent Jr. tallied 24 points and six made threes before fouling out. For the Knicks, RJ Barrett led the way with 30 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, while Julius Randle finished with a near triple-double – 23 points, 19 rebounds, and eight assists.
The New York Knicks are entering an incredibly tough stretch of basketball as they head into February, all without their defensive anchor, Mitchell Robinson. And tonight, despite the feistiness of the Raptors, was probably as good a night to win a game as they’re going to have over the course of the following month. However, the short-handed Knicks, who also played this game without Immanuel Quickley, came up short in Toronto, dropping the season series 1-3.
Nothing Like Home Cooking
The Toronto-born southpaw, RJ Barrett, quickly made his presence known in this one, scoring seven of the Knicks’ first 10 points in the game. However, New York’s terrible perimeter defense, the same defense that has them amid this losing streak, reared its ugly head quickly. The Raptors would take a 37-22 lead after the first quarter, spearheaded by 7-of-10 shooting from the outside.
They weren’t just knocking down open threes, they were threading impossible passes right through the heart of the Knicks’ defense. They were somehow able to whip a pass from the left wing to the right wing, right through the heart of the defense for a wide-open three. And, perhaps even more improbable, the Raptors snuck a pass from under the rim directly to the top of the key. It was an incredible lack of awareness by the Knicks’ perimeter defense as Gary Trent Jr. lit them up from three, finishing with 24 points on the night.
Turnovers were also apparent. The Raptors played swarming defense, consistently doubling Julius Randle, face-guarding Jalen Brunson, and neutralizing Quentin Grimes. Toronto feasted off a combination of good defense and New York turnovers, perhaps most exemplified by a Pascal Siakam blocked shot on a three-pointer, followed by a two-handed flush at the other end. Siakam, who tallied a 52-point performance against the Knicks earlier in the regular season, would finish with 24 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists.
Obi Toppin & Poppin’
The Knicks entered the second quarter in grave danger of letting this one slip away, and perhaps they came close. They trailed by as much as 17 at one point but were able to cut the lead with the heroics of Obi Toppin. In the absence of Quickley, someone would have to step up for the Knicks off the bench, and Toppin answered the call. Toppin knocked down four timely threes throughout the quarter, keeping the Knicks within striking distance. Toppin would finish with 14 points off the bench.
The Raptors’ scrappy defense, throughout an incredibly physical game, would continue to force turnovers throughout the second quarter, allowing them to take a 62-53 lead into the half. The Knicks had 13 turnovers in the first half. The battle of the undersized guards did not favor the Knicks either. Brunson struggled throughout the first half to get going offensively and to contain Fred VanVleet, who had 18 by halftime. VanVleet would finish with 28 points; Brunson added 21 points and 5 assists.
Big Apple Turnovers
The third quarter featured a catastrophic start for the Knicks, as they gave up two wide-open threes. However, little by little, the Knicks chipped away. Before you knew it, a Brunson three gave the Knicks the lead with 1:23 left in the quarter. The fourth quarter saw the length of Scottie Barnes and Chris Boucher pick off lazy Knicks passes, and as quickly as they had gained the lead, Knicks had also lost it. Costly turnovers and empty possessions allowed the Raptors to get going in transition and eventually put the Knicks away for good.
Mitchell Robinson (fractured finger) did not play. Immanuel Quickley (sore knee) did not play. O.G. Anunoby (sore ankle) did not play.
The New York Knicks will host former-future-Knick Donovan Mitchell and the Cleveland Cavaliers (29-19) Tuesday at 7:30 PM ET.