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Knicks back to the drawing board after Pascal Siakam’s 52-point masterpiece

“I’m not a super basketball historian, but I know how special this building is”

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

It took a Canadian team to break the New York Knicks' eight-game winning streak. The Toronto Raptors arrived at MSG on Wednesday, defeated the Knicks 113-106, and broke two different streaks by doing it: New York’s positive one and their own six-game losing skid.

The Knicks gave everybody a reason for optimism early by announcing a clean injury report... only for Quentin Grimes to ultimately miss the meeting with the Raps, making way for Immanuel Quickley to start. The bad news came after the warmups took place.

“I think [Grimes] is an important player because he’s a strong two-way player,” Tom Thibodeau said. “But someone’s out injured, next guy, get in there and get the job done.”

Quickley, truth be told, wasn’t bad at all for the Knicks on Wednesday starting for the first time this season, scoring 20 points, and having a very efficient shooting night hitting 7-of-10 field goals including going 6-of-9 from 3-point range. Thibodeau approved.

“I thought Quickley played a really solid game,” Thibodeau said. “The way he’s shooting the ball, we knew that would come around for him. He’s not hesitating. He’s letting it go.”

After scoring 22 points against the Dubs on Tuesday, Quickley hit 20+ pops for the second game in a row. Those 42 points combined were more than he had scored in the prior five games combined. He’s scored 11 treys in the past two games shooting 60% and 70% from the field in these last two outings.

That was great to watch, as were the 30+30 put together by Julius Randle and RJ Barrett on Wednesday’s scoreboard. Too bad for the Knicks, though, Pascal Siakam decided to have himself a game at MSG.

Siakam fell just two points short of adding his name to the books of the Toronto Raptors franchise. That will have to wait, though, with Siakam’s 52 points a bucket shy of Fred VanVleet’s 54-point tally.

That little detail shouldn’t be on the mind of the New York Knicks coaches and staffers, though. At the end of the day, it’s 52 points allowed to a single player. Man on a mission. Not since James Harden dropped 61 on January 23, 2019, had the Garden Faithful experienced such a large serial-killer slashing.

Siakam became the 10th member of a select club of players to have cooked themselves at least one 50-burger at MSG in a regular-season game: Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, Steph Curry, James Harden, Rip Hamilton, Rick Barry, and Elgin Baylor are the other names. Not bad company.

Fred VanVleet with 28 points and OG Anunoby with 15 points were the only other Raptors scoring in double figures on Wednesday. The Knicks still found a way to lose this game.

“I put it on us,” Randle said. “We knew it coming in and we just didn’t execute, so that’s on us. That’s on the players, on the team.”

Jalen Brunson, who had reached extraordinary levels of play lately (even though he suffered a little injury last Sunday) conceded that “the way I played, I feel terrible,“ adding that “it’s unacceptable on my part.”

Brunson could only finish with seven points and nearly as many turnovers after giving away five possessions. It’s just the second time this season Brunson has turned the ball over more than four times after doing so against Sacramento on Dec. 11.

“Five turnovers, just way too much. Shots I make with ease, I missed. Not going in the basket. I’m just disappointed in my turnovers and it’s just unacceptable on my part,” Brunson said after an off-shooting day in which he went 3-of-14 from the floor.

It wasn’t that bad for New York as the Knicks found themselves one point ahead of Toronto with just 3:20 left on the clock. The next three possessions were forgettable, though, killing their chances at putting up the ninth consecutive victory. Let’s say the game ended up slipping through the Knickerbocker's fingers without getting into much detail.

“I’m not a super basketball historian. I didn’t start basketball until a little late, but I know how special this building is,” Siakam said. You bet.

It had been 18 days without writing a sad report, so I guess we can’t complain.

“Normally when something like that happens the next day he has to go through the protocols and see where he is and if he needs a day, he’ll get the day. If he doesn’t, he’ll be out there,” Tom Thibodeau said. “I don’t think it’s anything long-term.”

Coach Thibodeau was talking about Grimes, not the game. If only was it in reverse.