TORONTO – The frustration continues for the Toronto Raptors.
Julius Randle scored 19 of his 32 points in the first quarter and hauled down 11 rebounds to lead the New York Knicks 112-108 over the Raptors on Friday, beating Toronto for the first time in 12 tries at Scotiabank Arena.
The Raptors’ was their third straight and 11th of their last 14 games.
Fred VanVleet, who led Toronto with 28 points, said the team isn’t playing with a consistent sense of urgency but can’t put his finger on why.
“I wish I had an answer for you, brother. I do,” VanVleet said. “We’re competing, just not well enough, not long enough stretches to win in this league.
“And it’s hard, it’s hard to win in his league, you can’t take that for granted. And so, it takes a little bit better than what we did.”
Gary Trent Jr. added 27 points for the Raptors, who fell to 16-23 — Toronto’s worst record through 39 games since the 2012-13 season. Pascal Siakam finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while OG Anunoby chipped in with 13 points.
The Raptors hadn’t lost to the Knicks at home in 11 straight games, a streak that stretched back to Nov. 10, 2015.
“Give a team those type of runs and you go down ten, and you fight back to get it back. And then you go down ten again, it’s hard to keep making those pushes,” VanVleet said. “And we fought to the very end again, made a little push there at the end, but just not well enough to win.”
The Raptors dropped to last in the league in three-point shooting with their 34.5 per cent performance Friday. The Knicks connected on 43.2 per cent from behind the arc.
Jalen Brunson added 22 points as the Knicks (22-18) won their fourth in a row.
Trailing by 10 to start the second half, the Raptors had a terrific burst of defensive intensity and when VanVleet banked in a three as the shot clock sounded with 35 seconds left, it pulled Toronto within two. His free throw made it a one-point game with 5.3 seconds left in the quarter. New York took an 81-78 advantage into the fourth.
With VanVleet taking a breather on the bench, Toronto fizzled early in the fourth, allowing the Knicks to open up a double-digit lead. New York was back up by 16 points with 4:37 to play. The Raptors clawed their way back and when Siakam drilled a three-pointer from the corner with 49 seconds left, the long bomb made it a four-point game and brought the capacity crowd of 19,800 to its feet.
Trent hit a three to slice the difference to just two points seven seconds later, but Brunson scored four points in the dying seconds to seal the victory.
“I just told them it’s tough out there and the rhythm isn’t great and it’s not a lot of fun, but proud of them continuing to fight, finding a way to battle back and somehow be around at the end,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “Again, just not quite good enough throughout the course of the game.”
Randle couldn’t miss in the first quarter, connecting on five consecutive three-pointers. The Knicks led by nine late in the frame, but Toronto closed with a 5-0 run — highlighted by a steal and basket from Trent — and New York took a 30-26 advantage into the second.
“I thought that was huge. It gave us a lot of confidence,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said of Randle’s hot start. “When a guy comes out like that it sort of sets the tone for the game.”
Brunson’s three capped a 17-4 New York that put the visitors up by 17 points midway through the second quarter. The Raptors replied with their own run, and Chris Boucher’s running layup with 6.6 seconds on the clock pulled them to within 57-47 at halftime.
Boucher’s nine first-half points off the bench topped the entire bench scoring in the Raptors’ previous two games.
NO BARRETT: Knicks guard/forward and Mississauga, Ont., native RJ Barrett sat out his fifth consecutive game with a lacerated finger. Barrett, the No. 3 pick in the 2019 draft, was averaging 19.7 points a game. He told reporters the gash happened when his finger bent backwards and popped out of place. He still has stitches in it, and will be re-evaluated next week.
WIESKAMP: The Raptors are bringing in G League guard/forward Joe Wieskamp on a 10-day contract, ESPN first reported Friday. Wieskamp played 29 games with the Spurs a season ago.
UP NEXT: The Raptors host Portland on Sunday in the third game of their six-game homestand.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2022.
© 2023 The Canadian Press