Between an emotional win in their last game and an early start to this one, there were plenty of reasons why the Toronto Raptors might not be sharp.
And a pretty simple reason why they were.
“We just want to hoop, man,” All-Star DeMar DeRozan said. “Every time we get an opportunity to hoop, we’re going out there and doing what we know how to do and that’s to play, whether if it’s an early game, a late game, whatever it may be. No matter who we’re playing.”
Jonas Valanciunas scored 17 points, Kyle Lowry had 16 and the Raptors kept right on rolling, beating the New York Knicks 132-106 on Sunday for their season-high eighth straight victory.
The Raptors had no letdown after edging NBA-leading Houston on Friday in a matchup of the No. 1 teams in each conference, leading much of the game even with DeRozan shooting just 4 for 16 for nine points.
But seven Raptors finished in double figures in Toronto’s 15th win in 16 games. The Raptors fell one point shy of their highest total of the season, set in a victory over Cleveland on Jan. 11.
“They’re playing fantastic basketball right now and they’re continuing with that momentum through this last part of the season,” Knicks forward Tim Hardaway Jr. said. “They’re playing playoff basketball.”
Hardaway scored 25 and Luke Kornet had 18 as the Knicks dropped their seventh straight game and 15th in the last 16.
Coach Dwane Casey talked to the Raptors in the morning about this being a trap game, warning them to forget about their 108-105 victory over Houston and to ignore the Knicks’ record.
But none of that, or the early tip, slowed Toronto, which shot 50.5 percent.
“All we can do is keep getting better as a team,” Lowry said. “We understand that teams are going to come out there and throw their best shots at us and we’ve got to just maintain.”
The Raptors got a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from CJ Miles to lead 32-27 after one, then one from Malcolm Miller at the half to make it 65-57. And when New York got within seven late in the third quarter, the Raptors closed the period with an 11-2 run to take a 102-86 cushion to the fourth.
Raptors: Toronto has scored 100 or more points in 19 straight games, one shy of the franchise record set in the 2009-10 season. … Casey said before the game that reserve G Delon Wright would remain out with a sprained right big toe, but Wright felt good enough after working out that he played 20 minutes off the bench, scoring 12 points.
Knicks: New York played without starting center Enes Kanter because of back spasms. F Lance Thomas sat out with a sprained right thumb after he was hit in the loss at Milwaukee on Friday. X-rays taken before the game were negative. … G Courtney Lee came off the bench after missing the last two games for family reasons. Coach Jeff Hornacek said Lee would practice Monday and likely return to his starting spot Tuesday. … New York opened the first of the two remaining five-game homestands on its schedule.
Both coaches were asked before the game if they were worried about a 1 p.m. start that felt like noon because of the beginning of daylight saving time.
“Those 12 o’clock games, 1 o’clock games, you never know how the players are going to end up coming out, but we’re pretty young team so I would expect that it would be fine,” Hornacek said.
Casey was more concerned that it would be a factor.
“No question it does, because you’re out of your body rhythm, your rhythm of you’re used to playing at 7, 7:30,” he said. “You’re out of your routine so to speak, so again, it becomes a professional approach and a professional game.”
MORE ON THE TIP TIME
The game was the NBA’s first live broadcast of a game in prime time in India. It was the first of five games this season being shown live at a 10 p.m. India start time.
Raptors: Visit Brooklyn on Tuesday.
Knicks: Host Dallas on Tuesday.
Source: Associated Press