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Knicks 108, Raptors 100: Let’s just recap that historic third quarter


NBA: Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, so that really happened. We’ve seen some shockingly impressive basketball stuff from the 2017-18 New York Knicks, but nothing quite like what they pulled off Wednesday night at the Garden against the Toronto Raptors. After watching 6 quarters of basketball between these squads—four last Friday, the first two tonight—I was convinced that this was simply not a good matchup. The Raptors’ guards are too crafty, and they shoot threes too readily. Hell, they dropped 10 triples on the Knicks in the first half en route to an 11-point edge. Kristaps Porzingis looked mortal, as he has recently, which took away New York’s one clear advantage. It was a rather depressing affair.

Twelve minutes of basketball later, the Knicks had made history. The very best kind of history. To wit.

By the numbers, Wednesday’s third quarter was the best quarter in team history. So dominant were they that bullet points are required:

Courtney Lee (11 points) and Tim Hardaway Jr. (12 points) led the way for New York. Lee hit the first few buckets for New York out of the halftime break, when we still had no idea what was to come. As the momentum of the Knicks’ run took on a life of its own, Hardaway took over. At one point he blocked Serge Ibaka (!!!) on one end and tossed a no-look dish to Enes Kanter on the other end (!!!).

—Timmy had 4 assists. In the quarter.

—Enes Kanter blocked 2 shots in the third. I can’t even begin to properly express how much better he was on defense than usual. The Raptors kept running pick-and-rolls with Kanter’s man. Kanter played each one to perfection, working in tandem with a variety of Knicks guards to stifle penetration.

—Kristaps Porzingis didn’t hit a shot in the third. Think about that: 16 made field goals, and none from Kristaps. He did contribute 2 free throws to the Knicks 41 points.

That isn’t to say that the Unicorn was useless. His off-ball help defense on pick-and-rolls was the perfect last line of defense, and with each New York’s perimeter player uncharacteristically sticking to his man, the Raptors completely fell apart. Kyle Lowry, who usually picks the Knicks to shreds, was just kind of chucking the ball to nobody in particular. He was hella shook. It was glorious.

From Courtney Lee: “My man Tracy Morgan told me he’s been waiting years for a team like this.” So have we all, Tracy. So have we all.

And that was the third quarter. There were other quarters in this game—three, in fact!—and they were all important in their own way. But not historically important. I’ll talk more about those tomorrow. Until then, enjoy this 28-0 run. This stuff doesn’t happen every day.