Turned It Over. Toronto 113 NY 104

The Knicks jumped out to a big lead against the Toronto Raptors on a Monday night at Madison Square Garden, but then turned the ball over, and the lead over — starting in the 2nd quarter — allowing Toronto to gain confidence and put the Knicks on their heels. In the 3rd, Toronto hammered the Knicks — outscoring them 38-22 in the quarter and taking a 12-point lead into the 4th that the Knicks could not recover from.

The result was a disappointing 113-104 loss to Toronto, dropping NY’s record on the year to 5-2.

“We lost the lead, got back on our heels; they were the aggressors; that’s basically the story of the game,” said coach Tom Thibodeau afterwards. The turning point he said “was middle of the 2nd quarter; we got back on our heels; turned the ball over; gave them hope and in the 3rd quarter we got drilled.”

“Their ball pressure got us back on our heels. Sometimes you just have to own your space. If someone has their hands all over you, you have to get them off.”

1. Big Games for Anunoby and Trent Jr

OG Anunoby had a big game for Toronto with 36 points, and Gary Trent Jr had 26 — making up for Pascal Siakam who was out injured.

The 6’7 athletic and British-born Anunoby raised his scoring average to 20.3 on the season, after averaging 15.9 last year. That ppg average has been rising every season since he was the #23 overall pick in the 2017 draft — the Frank Ntilikina draft. One can only imagine how high Anunoby would be picked if the draft were held again today — but one would figure top 10 if not top 5.

And Gary Trent Jr was last lighting it up for the Portland Trail Blazers last year when CJ McCollum was out during the first half of the season, and then was traded to Toronto (with Rodney Hood) at mid season when McCollum came back — for Norman Powell. Trent Jr was a 2nd round pick for Sacramento in June 2018, and played in the G League before Portland picked him up. He averaged 15.1 per game last year and is averaging 15.3 this year.

Fred VanVleet was also there for Toronto, hitting big shots in the 4th when they had to be made — to deny NY any chance at a comeback.

Those three combined with the other young Toronto players to out hustle the Knicks and put NY on their heels — Fred VanVleet, 6’7 shooting guard Svi Mykhailiuk (15 pts), 6’9 center Khem Birch (a +20 on the game), and 6’8 forward Precious Achiuwa.

2. NY Led By Randle Early & Barrett Late

Julius Randle started out on fire for NY, but then was one of the key culprits in turning the ball over several times in the 2nd quarter. RJ Barrett had another strong game — especially at the end when he tried to lead the Knicks back from a double-digit 4th quarter deficit.

Barrett had 27 points on 9-13 shooting (5-8 from 3, 4-6 from the free throw line) and 6 rebounds. Barrett raised his scoring average to 18.6, and is shooting .511 from the floor and .429 from 3, with a .720 free throw percentage.

Randle ended with 22 points on 7-14 shooting (4-7 from 3, 4-4 from the free throw line), 9 rebounds, 5 assists, and a block — and only 3 turnovers. But 2 of those turnovers were big plays late in the 2nd quarter to gain Toronto momentum.

At the end of the evening it was Barrett’s efficient play that had Knicks Twitter singing praises despite the Knick loss.

“If they load up, we got wide open shots. And a lot of it was off drive and kicks,” said Thibodeau of the double-teaming of Randle. “You gotta read the game; put it on the floor and you have to spray. When we did that we were able to find them. If they send two at him (Julius Randle) he’s got to keep moving and we need to keep searching. Anytime there’s two on the ball, it’s good. It should be easy offense for everyone else. We have to take advantage of that.”

3. Walker & Fournier Not Enough

Kemba Walker had a good game statistically — 15 points on 5-10 shooting. Evan Fournier less so — 12 points on 5-12 shooting (2-7 from 3).

Obi Toppin had another strong game in the 10 minutes he was out there — attacking the basket off give-and-go’s and strong defense.

Mitchell Robinson had a good game inside — 12 rebounds but only 2-4 from the floor as he missed two dunks — one off a great offensive rebound that would have raised the roof if he made it.

Both Derick Rose and Immanuel Quickley had off nights: Rose had 4 pts on 2-8 shooting in 20 minutes, and Quickley 7 points on 1-7 shooting in 19 minutes.

The Boxscore


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