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Knicks 119, Raptors 106: “Donte TriVincenzo”

21 on 9 shots with 7 treys for the Big Ragu!

New York Knicks v Toronto Raptors Photo by Vaughn Ridley/NBAE via Getty Images

Donte DiVincenzo 7, Toronto Raptors 6. That’s the story of Friday’s game right there. In MrBenks’ words: “Donte TriVincenzo.”

In a matchup between the New York Knicks (12-7) and the Canadian Raps (9-11), the former flew north of the border and were outhustled. It didn’t matter, as the Knicks returned home with the second win in as many nights under their collective wings, 119-106.

The Raptors grabbed more rebounds (48 to 43) and destroyed the offensive glass (19 to 11), forced one more free throw (17 to 16), stole one more rock (7 to 6), swatted double the shots (6 to 3), and dished out more dimes (32 to 30), and scored more inside (60 to 48 points in the paint). All of that for nuttin’.

The reason why? New York shot 50% from the floor but most importantly 44% from beyond the arc. Toronto finished the game at 44% overall and below 19% from range. In counting stats, the Knicks bagged 16-of-36 threes to the Raptors’ 6-of-32.

“Over the game, in general, they made a lot of threes and we didn’t shoot it very well tonight,” said Raptors big man Jakob Poeltl. “That was the biggest difference.”

And the big Pole was hella right. You can’t simply win a basketball game these days falling 10 shots short of meeting your opponent’s production from three. That’s 30 points out of pure long-range shooting. Simple math: 15 more 2-point baskets, 30 more freebies, or a combination of those two. Quite obviously, there just aren’t so many possessions available out there to bridge that difference.

(Just for context, the Raptors actually hoisted 100 shots to New York’s 90 from the field, and they only shot four fewer 3-pointers than the Knicks).

DiVo was on a real heater on Friday. Coming off the pine—perhaps for one of the final times he does this season considering the never-ending Quentin Grimes’ struggles—the freshest Knickerbocker bagged 21 points on seven made shots, all of them from beyond the arc. He went 7-of-9 in 22 minutes of playing time. Not bad.

“The two I missed today, I think I forced them,” DiVincenzo said after the game. “When I let them come to me, they went in, and I’ve gotta just keep doing that.”

Fellow Novabrother Josh Hart scored the second-most points by a reserve with 17 in two games after saying he lacked rhythm. I don’t know if other teams want to meet an on-rhythm Hart judging by his 17-8-2 stat line in 31 minutes for a smooth +11 plus/minus shooting 7-of-11 from the field, 3-of-4 from three.

“How many (consecutive points) did he have?” Tom Thibodeau asked.

Hart hit 15 consecutive points at the end of the third quarter. The Knicks dominated the Raps throughout, but the scoreboard wasn’t reflecting it until deep into the game. It was 34-26 after one, 57-all by halftime.

“Pretty good,” the coach answered.

Those 15 pops made the difference coming off intermission with the Knicks entering the final stanza boasting a 13-point lead against the hosting Ovos.

“I had no idea [I was scoring that much],” Hart said. “I wish I did. Boy, I would’ve started jacking. I would’ve tried to make it 20 or 25. I felt like I had the hot hand a little bit. But I didn’t know until after the game when somebody told me.”

All it took Hart to hit that mark was a little over three minutes and 30 seconds.

By the final buzzer, the Knicks bench mob had outscored the Raptors second unit 52-25. Isaiah Hartenstein added four points, and Immanuel Quickley contributed 10 in only 19 minutes.

“Our bench was terrific,” Thibodeau said. “We got good, solid performances from everybody.”

Julius Randle was close to missing (lol) Friday’s matchup popping up on the injury report with a knee inflammation, making him “questionable” to play against the Raptors. JR being JR, however, was always going to end up playing.

“[I’ll play] all the time. You all should know that by now,” Randle said. “It’s not really about load management. We just love to play basketball. Me personally, I love to play basketball, so if I can play I’m going to play.”

Said Thibs: “You almost come to expect that from him. If he can go, he’s going.”

And to be fair, who would have thought Randle was limited in any capacity considering he was just one dime short of reaching a hellacious triple-double: 20 points, 10 boards, nine assists. Only two turnovers. Plus-15 on the court. Not bad!

Jalen Brunson added 22 points, RJ Barrett scored 15, Mitchell Robinson and Quentin Grimes combined for 10.

Grimes failed to score double-digit points for the sixth consecutive game. It’s been five matches in a row for QG starting but playing fewer than 25 minutes. He logged exactly 25 at Minny back on Nov. 21 when he went 0-for-6 from the floor—all threes. In fact, Grimes has not scored more than two field goals since mid-November when he found the net on 4-of-11 shots at Atlanta.

Will Thibs make another Dec. 4 lineup change like he did last season? No dice, Ian Begley of SNY told me.

Will Donte DiVincenzo end the season in the starting five with Grimes demoted to backup duties? Will Josh Hart earn a spot himself? Will the Knicks entertain trading Grimes away if the opportunity to land an external contributor emerges?

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype wrote a column last Wednesday touching on potential trade candidates. Grimes made it to the Knicks section.

“In years past, the Knicks shied away from including Grimes in trade talks with the Clippers for Paul George, the Bulls for Zach LaVine, the Jazz during Donovan Mitchell trade talks, and the Hawks, who also inquired about him,” Scotto reminded his readers.

Has that mentality changed now? Will the 3-and-D evolution ever materialize? Will the development stall and see Grimes stay a D-no-3 guy? Will Grimes become the Knicks' Tony Allen? Bruce Bowen? Andre Roberson?

All things considered, so far, so good for a New York Basketball Club that is tied with the Philadelphia 76ers for the no. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference at 12-7 each. The Knicks, even though sitting in fifth place, have more wins against ECF teams than the Sixers in fourth. They are riding a three-game winning streak to the Sixers' two-game losing one.

Most interestingly (and important for the NBA and their broadcast partners), the Knicks will be playing a game against the Bucks for the rights to punch a ticket to Las Vegas on their way to making the first-ever In-Season Tournament Final Four.

No more games till then. Knicks at Bucks. Fiserv Forum is the venue, Dec. 5 is the date, IST Quarterfinals is the round. Win-or-go-home matchup. Tip-off at 7:30 ET. Not bad for a random Tuesday. Don’t miss it.