On a night when Chris Bosh did not play, the Knicks couldn't capitalize on the early Easter gift. They blew a great opportunity to beat a Toronto team in the midst of a four game losing streak and without their best player.
Tonight's win for the Raptors, their third against the Knicks this season, improved them to 22-9 at Air Canada Centre. They currently are a fifth seed in the East despite having a record of just 32-28. As fellow P&T'er "The Rooster" put it, "That's the Eastern Conference for you."
If you're a Raptors fan reading this and you live in the greater Toronto area, start ordering your playoff tickets.
More notes and observations after the jump.
The game was very competitive, as the Knicks' biggest lead was only four points, while Toronto's was only nine. This game featured 16 lead changes and nine ties. Toronto won for the following reasons: The teams tied for 41 total rebounds despite the fact the Knicks outrebounded the Raptors on the defensive glass 34-30. The Raptors won the offensive rebounding battle 11-7. Secondly, they got to play their preferred up-tempo pace, with the game featuring a combined 114 points in the paint and Toronto having a 62-52 edge. Also, they won the transition game, outscoring the Knicks 22-18. Lastly, Toronto had fewer turnovers; committing just eight while New York had 14 (with Tracy McGrady accountig for six of them).
When you lose the turnover battle, don't get back on missed shots and then play matador defense, you will lose more times than not.
When the Raptors were in half court offense, they repeatedly broke down the Knicks with dribble penetration from Jose Calderon, Jarrett Jack, and Hedo Turkoglu. New York's defense was so poor that Toronto hardly had to pass the ball, as only 18 of their 46 baskets were assisted. However, watching the game, and then watching it for a second time, I felt as though they still should have had more than 18 assists. The Raptors still found ways to move the ball around from inside and out. Our guys were being repeatedly beaten individually, and the rotations and help either were late in arriving or didn't bother at all. Toronto had easy access to the rim that they only had 11 free throw attempts all night, compared to the Knicks' 19. New York outshot them from the charity stripe 78.9% to 54.5%, but it didn't matter.
The hero of the game was little-known Raptors guard Sonny Weems, who came off the bench and looked like a man amongst boys against the Knicks. He contributed 20 points on 9-16 shooting, and added nine rebounds in just 28 minutes. His speed and athleticism allowed him to get easy buckets off baseline drives and put backs, and he drained a few mid-range jumpers too. On defense he forced some loose balls with his quick hands. His play inspired fellow P&T'er "KnickWiz" to give us tonight's headline.
The Knicks' best player-as usual-was David Lee.
He recorded his 40th double-double of the season, with 23 points and 18 rebounds (15 defensive), so hats off to him. Bill Walker, who was the star last game for New York, couldn't come up with a third straight 20-point night despite receiving another start. He had just eight points tonight (4-6), in 25 minutes. Wilson Chandler's strong play (see below) took away some of his floor time.
Tonight was Chandler's first game back since his grandfather passed. He came off the bench and played 38 minutes, scoring 18 points (8-of-15), to go with two rebounds, an assist and a steal. Also, Sergio Rodriguez made the most of his 17 minutes and change tonight; scoring 10 points (4-of-5 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), with seven assists and three rebounds.
Now for the uggly stuff:
As I pointed out in the game thread, Danilo Gallinari played like "ass." He finished with 13 points (5-of-12, 1-of-3 3pts, 2-of-2 Fts), and had just one rebound, one steal, and two fouls. At times he looked out of position on defense and was late closing out on shots. He also missed his first five shots of the game. While the rest of the Knicks were making hay early in the game driving inside, Gallo felt the need to hoist up threes, which were nowhere near the mark. He also blew so many close shots, that I got Charles Smith flashbacks. Even the buckets he did make, such as off-balance fall-away from five feet, weren't pretty.
Although T-Mac finished with a +3 and scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds, he failed to pass the eyeball test. For starters, he had a negative assist-to-turnover ratio (4:6-not good). Also, he missed all three of his shots from beyond the arc and half of his six free throws. Even though he's not a point guard, Coach Mike D'Antoni gave him a second straight over Sergio Rodriguez.
Al "Bricks" Harrington was alive and well for most of the evening. A shot out to fellow P&T'er 'IB" who pointed out that after Harrington started the game 4-of-4 from the field, he missed his final 12 shots and had two airballs. Harrington finished with 10 points, six rebounds, six assists, four fouls, and a turnover, and was still a +2. His "stellar" performance prompeted the guys on TSN mention that, "Harrington has looked selfish on several occassions with poor shot selection."
I'm of the opinion that the latter should only be on the floor when the former is, because then he's less likely to force up three-point prayers. Without McGrady's influence, Harrington acts out like a kid when there's a substitute teacher, thinking to himself, "I'm going to do what Al Harrington do."
Eddie House missed all four of his shots in 18 minutes-including three from downtown-while Jonathan Bender, Chris Duhon, and Tony Douglas kept the bench warm for Coach MDA's 8 man rotation. Jr. Giddens didn't play as he is still rehabbing his knee.
If the game wasn't bad enough, having to listen to the Raptors announcers on League Pass made it worse.
They felt the need to express how they think Donnie Walsh, and D'Antoni are doing. They wanted everyone to know that Steve Nash made D'Antoni, that the Knicks are doing themselves a disservice by not keeping their "building block players" (such as?); that the Knicks won't be able to attract many free agents this summer, and that D'Antoni should be on the hot seat if New York doesn't make the playoffs next season.
Great, thanks for your input guys. No one cares.
They weren't finished with their bashing of our hibernating franchise. They felt the need to remind us that the Knicks' last post-season win was against Toronto in 2001, a series that the Raptors won in five.
Really, thanks again, fellas.
The loss drops the Knicks to 21-40, 15-26 in the East, 3-7 in the Atlantic Division, and 8-20 on the road. In their last ten games the Knicks are 2-8, and have gone 2-7 since the trade deadline, if you're scoring at home.