The Toronto Raptors took advantage of New York’s horrific shooting night as they pulled away late for a 100-83 win over the Knicks. In what was deemed a “must win” for Toronto after three consecutive losses to open the season, the dynamic backcourt of Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry led the way. It was the 17th time in the last 18 meetings that Toronto (1-3) has defeated the Knicks (2-2). The game was played in Tampa’s Amalie Arena, the temporary home of the Raptors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Knicks entered the night with an NBA leading 45.9% shooting percentage from three-point range after the first four games. However, perimeter shooting failed them on this night. The Knicks shot just 3 for 36 from behind the arc with their five starters finishing with an abysmal 0-23. RJ Barrett and Reggie Bullock were a combined 0-17. Barrett has now misfired on 21 straight three-point attempts after going 3 for 3 on opening night in Indiana.
“If we would have made some of our threes, we probably would have had a good chance to win,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
Toronto wasn’t exactly stellar from three-point range either. The Raptors shot just 17 for 52 for 32.7% from beyond the arc but it was more than enough to get the job done.
The Raptors were playing without All-Star Pascal Siakam, who sat for “disciplinary reasons” after he fouled out in the previous game and left the court with 25 seconds remaining.
“Obviously it was a disciplinary thing for an internal matter. Let’s keep it at that for tonight,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said.
The Knicks fell behind by as much as 11 in the first half, but eight straight points by Randle gave New York their first lead of the game with 1:29 to play in the second.
Mitchell Robinson’s layup early in the third quarter handed the Knicks their biggest lead of the night, but a trio of three-pointers by Alex Len sparked Toronto to a seven point lead heading to the fourth.
Miraculously, after misfiring on 20 consecutive threes, the Knicks were able to hang close until the final minutes. New York was within 76-73 with eight minutes to play when the game took a turn. Back-to-back treys by VanVleet and Chris Boucher sparked a 19-2 run by the Raptors to put the game away.
“We were in the game. Obviously 3-for-36 shooting doesn’t help but overall we thought it was a very winnable game for us,” Randle said.
VanVleet poured in 25 points for the Raptors while dishing out seven assists and pulling down five rebounds. Lowry scored 20 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.
Austin Rivers was activated for his Knicks debut after straining his groin before training camp. He served as the backup point guard and scored seven points in 21 minutes.
The Knicks return to action on Saturday for the third game of a four game road trip in Indiana. New York dropped a 121-107 decision to the Pacers on opening night.
(Photo: AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)