It wasn’t a happy homecoming for Canadian rookies RJ Barrett and Ignas Brazdeikis, as the Knicks were walloped by the Raptors in Toronto.

The New York Knicks (4-14) lost to the reigning champion Toronto Raptors (13-4) Wednesday night, 126-98. The Knicks were blown out in another embarrassing game that can’t be good for embattled head coach David Fizdale.

New York had a 29-21 lead entering the second quarter—their only bright spot of the game. Once their shots stop falling, the Knicks typically fell into iso-heavy basketball, which happened again Wednesday night. The Raptors slaughtered them in the second quarter, outscoring them 37-17, a hole New York was never able to crawl out of. The offense was an absolute disaster, as ball movement in the halfcourt was nonexistent, and Toronto’s suffocating defense handicapped every Knicks possession.

The Raptors are full of high quality defenders and passers like Fred VanVleet, Marc Gasol, and Pascal Siakam, making them one of the NBA’s elite teams. The Knicks weren’t capable enough to keep up with the task defensively, fouling at egregious levels. In the third quarter, New York entered the penalty with 8:44 remaining.

The Siakam Show

The Knicks could not stop Raptors forward Pascal Siakam, who has transformed from a bench player to superstar. He scored easily on pull-up threes, in transition, and by getting to the free throw line consistently. His handle and crossover were mesmerizing to watch, and the Knicks wanted no part of stopping it. Siakam finished with 31 points on 22 shots and eight rebounds.

Overall, the Knicks showed no cohesion on defense. The Raptors shooters were consistently gifted with open attempts from deep due to miscommunication and a lack of urgency.

R.J. Homecoming Spoiled

R.J. Barrett returned to action after missing last game against Brooklyn due to an upper respiratory infection. He was clearly excited to be in his home country of Canada, confirming pregame that he would be playing for Canada at the Olympic qualifier next summer. He sported custom PUMA’s Canada-themed sneakers, with “MADE IN CANADA” plastered on the shoes. Sadly, he had a lackluster performance in his return, throwing sloppy passes and a handful of easy opportunities to score.

Kevin Knox Gone Missing

Kevin Knox continues to live in David Fizdale’s doghouse. He logged just five non-garbage time minutes Wednesday night. After Knox got the nod to start against Brooklyn when R.J. Barrett was out, one would think that was a vote of confidence, but he only played 18 minutes that game. His playtime could extend from Fizdale being on the hot seat and trying to stick with guys that give the Knicks a better shot at short-term success, but seeing as how that plan isn’t working out, his lack of playtime is a mystery. 

Julius Randle and Empty Calories

Julius Randle is quickly becoming one of the most glaring “good stats, bad team” players I’ve ever seen. He scored a handful of difficult baskets tonight, and grabbed a good amount of rebounds for a guy his size (eight).

Sadly, his performances aren’t helping this Knicks team at all, and the infinitely long leash David Fizdale has given him only promotes his style of play. I don’t doubt Randle could be an effective piece in a bench role, but the volume to which he is taking up possessions is part of the problem offensively

 

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