That was weird. Calling the Knicks shorthanded would be an understatement, but they kept the game within striking distance for almost the entire duration. I'd be hard-pressed to say this was an impressive performance, as I think the Raptors mostly just missed a lot of shots they probably should have made, but it was nice to see New York avoid a blowout nonetheless.
Normally, this would be the part where I break down the flow of the game quarter-by-quarter, but technical difficulties in my apartment caused me to miss the final 7 minutes of the first quarter. Luckily, our good pal Stingy (AKA Jonathan Schulman AKA the Speedy Souper AKA AK AKA Brown Lightning) gave me a succinct overview of what I missed:
sasha turnovers and feigned rotations allow super easy buckets. weird group of knicks didn't know how to move together on offense. ball stuck, team sucked
I also missed a very nice Lance Thomas play on defense, according to Seth. That concludes the special guest portion of this recap.
In the second quarter, things started getting a bit odd. Again, I don't know that I'd say the Knicks played good defense, but the Raptors certainly missed a lot of shots, and New York went into the halftime locker room down 10. To illustrate Toronto's futility: from the 3:54 mark of the second to the 5:31 mark of the third, they went 1/19 from the field. Even the Carmelo Anthony-less, Kristaps Porzingis-less, Jose Calderon-less Knicks were able to take advantage of such a terrible cold streak, cutting the Raptors' lead to 1 about halfway through the third quarter. Of course, the fact that the Raptors shot 1/19 over an almost 10-minute period but didn't even relinquish their lead is all the evidence you need to prove that the 'Bockers were unlikely to win this game. And once Toronto began hitting their shots again, they fairly quickly extended the lead back to 13.
But the Knicks wouldn't go down so easily! Led by 10 points from Sasha Vujacic, of all people, our boys traded blows with the Raptors throughout the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, they could never really close the deficit, and ultimately lost by 10 points. No reasonable person could have expected the Knicks to win this game, but I was certainly proud of their refusal to let the Raptors roll over them. Some notes:
- Just in case you didn't know in advance, Melo sat with his knee soreness, Kristaps is sick, and Calderon has a groin injury.
- Your starting lineup, as a result: Langston Galloway, Arron Afflalo, Lance Thomas, Kyle O'Quinn, Robin Lopez. That's... a group of 5 NBA players, for sure. Okay, in fairness, I don't think anyone would complain if either Lang or Lance started every day. But both of them and KOQ together in the starting 5 really doesn't look very good.
- Even though the Knicks hung around all game, there wasn't anyone who stood out very much. Galloway did some cool stuff, including an awesome save on a ball headed out of bounds, but was mostly just okay. Afflalo scored 20 points, but it took him 17 shots to get there, and also I'm mad at him for hitting some kinda tough shots tonight but missing every conceivable important shot on Tuesday night against the Thunder.
- Jerian Grant played 25 minutes, scored 13 points, and dished 6 assists. I would've liked to see him out there more often, but he was pretty erratic in the middle of the game, so I get it. Still, if there ever was a game to run Jerian out there for 35 minutes, this was the one.
- On the other hand, Sasha Vujacic played 24 minutes, which is 24 too many. I don't care how many people are injured or how many points he scored in the fourth; there's no reason for him to be out there.
- It seemed like we were gonna get the weekly Kyle O'Quinn flagrant foul late in the second quarter when he got tangled up with Jonas Valanciunas, but in a shocking turn of events, a referee review led to no upgrade of the foul on O'Quinn and a technical foul on Valanciunas. Great job avoiding a flagrant, Kyle!
- If you're wondering why the Knicks didn't sign Thanasis Antetokounmpo to his 10-day contract before tonight's game, I'm as stumped as you are. Joe, however, offered up a plausible theory: Thanasis didn't bring his passport on the Westchester Knicks' road trip and therefore couldn't meet the team in Toronto.
- 52 points on 17/34 shooting for the Kyle Lowry/DeMar DeRozan combo. They're good at basketball.
As lololol put it in the game thread, "eh, good try, good effort." This was a game the Knicks had no business competing in, but they did it anyway! Hopefully that effort carries over to the game against the Suns tomorrow night, but also, hopefully Melo, Kristaps, and Calderon play so we don't need to worry as much.