The Toronto Raptors have owned the Knicks ever since the Andrea Bargnani trade. This year was supposed to be different, as the Raptors have languished in their Tamp exile and the Knicks have climbed past them in the standings. New York had a chance to snag a much-needed win and climb back to .500, but such ownage does not go away overnight. The Raptors smartly turned to the Knicks’ bane, the zone defense, in the second half, and went on a 40-15 run to take a seemingly insurmountable lead.
But these are not the Knicks are yesteryear. They don’t care how many times New York has lost to those dreaded dinos. Most importantly, they have the rapidly improving RJ Barrett, and his massive cajones. The kid from Canada stuck the dagger right in the eye of his home country’s team, and the Knicks walked away with a sloppy 102-96 win.
I suppose the best thing you could say about this game was that it was the best performance from Elfrid Payton since maybe December. The much-maligned point guard helped the Knicks jump out to an 11-point first-quarter lead. The bench held the lead pretty much in tact, and the starters pushed it to 14 at halftime. But that damn zone did them in once again. RJ actually had some success cutting and passing from the middle of the zone, but it was not enough.
Now THAT'S how you bust a zone pic.twitter.com/StOrIUBKu2— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 12, 2021
The Knicks wouldn’t go away, though, as RJ found Burks from beyond the arc to help the Knicks retake the lead.
Ok ok I take back the Burks slander (for now) pic.twitter.com/HaCCrbtqpP— The Strickland (@TheStrickland) April 12, 2021
RJ’s passing was the story of the game throughout, as he had 5 dimes of the highest quality. But the kid is known not for passing, but for getting buckets. And with less than a minute remaining, it was winning time.
The Raptors actually had a chance thanks to some dumb Alec Burks nonsense, but Pascal Siakam travelled on the break, and Julius Randle hit four free throws to put the game on ice.
Put RJ on your money, Canada. Recap to come.