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Knicks 136, Raptors 130: “Sharing is caring!“

A team win before the West Coast trip.

Toronto Raptors v New York Knicks Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

There were a lot of things that could have happened on Monday as the New York Knicks (13-9) made their return home to play basketball inside MSG for the first time in more than a week.

Turns out not even the worst possible news—Mitchell Robinson out for more than two months, Immanuel Quickley missing the game—were bad enough to prevent the Knicks from inflicting the Toronto Raptors (9-14) a 136-130 wound in their visit to Manhattan.

And oh boy, was that a team effort with everybody stepping up when the franchise needed it the most and leveling up their collective game to beat the OVOs before embarking on a very daunting five-game road trip.

The trifecta of Julius Randle (34), RJ Barrett (27), and Jalen Brunson (21) combined for 82 points.

Randle, by the way, was called for his first tech of the season for getting overly excited after dunking. And we loved to watch his reaction as much as Wally.

“I was just excited!” Randle said. “My first tech of the season. I’ll take it.”

Bench MVP Quentin Grimes notched a season-high 19 points along with fellow off-the-piners Isaiah Hartenstein (11) and Josh Hart (16) reaching double-digit pops in IQ’s absence.

Hartenstein stayed put on the bench, entering the game in relief of Jericho Sims. I-Hart said that Mitch Rob “Called me before the game, wished me good luck.” And good luck he had, as the big German went on to put up 11 points to go with eight rebounds, two assists, two steals, and a block. Mitch Lite, anyone?

Sims, starting in Mitch’s place—something the young Hercules already did 16 times last season—contributed seven rebounds and one assist in 21 minutes.

“The more reps you get the better you’re going to play,” Sims said. “I’m better, stronger, and quicker than I was last year, and I know the game more.” Yes, Sims said he is stronger. How that’s even possible, I don’t have a clue.

Donte DiVincenzo had a bit of a rough outing in his second consecutive start, dropping only three points on two shots but adding four boards, five dimes, and one block.

Thibs opted to go with Sims instead of Hart to keep the team as close to its original version and game-planning as possible. “We’re not going to change [our] style of play. A lot of the things Mitch does Jericho does as well,” Thibodeau said.

“With Isaiah, it’s different. I like having that flexibility. It’s two different looks.”

Hart acknowledged that missing Robinson “would be tough,” and that everybody would need to step up if the Knicks wanted to get the W against a resilient Raps mob that kept things close all game long.

The Knicks didn’t improve that much on the defensive end compared to what they did in last week’s back-to-back IST losses against the Bucks (146 points allowed) and the Celtics (133) as they allowed Toronto to drop 130 more on them.

That said, the offense was spot-on by dumping a season-high 136 pops on the Raptors and breaking the 125-point barrier for just the fourth time this year, this being the first matchup in which New York scored 130+ points.

“A number of our guys stepped up, especially offensively,” Thibodeau said. “The rebounding could have been better. And we need to continue to work on defense.”

The Knicks scored on 60.5 percent of their shots from the floor. They bagged 58.6 percent of their 3-point attempts. They were awful from the free-throw line (65.2%) but that didn’t matter as the Raptors shot 49/36/73 splits on 96 FGA and 30 FTA on the day.

“We’re a team that can go on runs,” Hart said after filling his statline with seven rebounds and eight assists on top of his 16 points. The Knicks bench, Hart included, outscored the Raptors’ second unit 49-30 even though Toronto used five players to New York’s four relievers.

Grimes kept his Redemption Tour alive by getting a game-high +10 on the plus/minus column through nearly 27 minutes of play, hoisting 11 shots and making seven of them including five from beyond the 3-point arc.

“Our whole bench unit, I’m very, very pleased with the way they’re playing,” Thibodeau said. “You need everybody. We’ve got to get everyone playing well together to bring the best out of each other and if we do that, we’ll have a good chance to win.

“I don’t want to lose sight of winning,” added Thibs. “The win’s the most important thing.”

The Knicks, probably playing at the peak of their talents (in the context of not having MR/IQ) on Monday against a sub-.500 team, had to fight till the final minutes to finally separate from the Raptors on the scoreboard.

The win was good to kick the week off, but things aren’t getting any rosier going forward. New York won’t play a home game until Dec. 23, nearly two weeks from yesterday, and when they do they will be hosting Milwaukee on back-to-back matchups then and two days later on Christmas Day.

The upcoming trip: the Jazz on Wednesday, the Suns and the Clippers on back-to-back days to start the weekend, then the Lakers on Monday, and finally Brooklyn on Wednesday in a semi-return home.

Monday’s win kept New York’s record against losing teams impeccable at 10-0, the best in the NBA. Only the Utah Jazz are currently below that .500 winning percentage among the five teams the Knicks will face next (standings through Monday’s games).

The Knicks' record against winning teams? 3-9 with those wins coming against the Cavs (without Darius Garland, Caris LeVert, and Jarrett Allen), the Heat (21-point comeback), and the Clippers (in James Harden’s discombobulated debut).

Let’s hope for a positive 3-2 split before welcoming Milwaukee’s Grinch. Santa save our Knicks.

As KLoco put it in the Game Thread yesterday and Randle told Rebecca Haarlow, “Passing and cashing! Sharing is caring!”