The good times continued for the Toronto Raptors on Monday night as they rolled into Madison Square Garden and beat the New York Knicks despite missing multiple key players.
The Raptors have been without Pascal Siakam since the beginning of the year, but a thumb injury picked up over the weekend by Scottie Barnes meant that they would be without two of their best scorers. Even in their absence the offence was humming for Toronto (mostly thanks to OG Anunoby), and they were able to outlast a strong Knicks team for an underdog victory.
The first quarter didn’t necessarily go according to plan for the Raptors, who came out sluggish on defence; unable to put multiple stops together. Toronto managed to battle back in the second but still trailed by 4 going into the half, and it seemed as if the Knicks would find a way to pull away. The third quarter was a completely different story though, as the Raptors offence caught fire, with Anunoby in particular taking over the game and getting whatever looks he wanted. Anunoby’s offensive game has evolved tremendously, and his entire toolbox was put to use on Monday, especially in terms of getting his own looks. The Raptors scored 38 in the third and took a 12-point lead into the fourth, which they never looked back on, cruising away to an 11-point road victory.
Anunoby’s career-high 36-points led the way for Toronto, and he tacked on 6 rebounds for good measure. Gary Trent Jr. had himself a game with 26 points, 2 assists and 4 steals, while Fred VanVleet came close to a triple-double, finishing with 17-9-8. Svi Mykhailiuk made his first start as a Toronto Raptor with Barnes out of the lineup, and did well in 37 minutes, scoring 15 points along with 5 rebounds and 5 assists. The Canadian bench trio of Boucher, Birch and Banton all featured in Monday’s game, with Birch showcasing the most impressive performance of the bunch, finishing with 6 points and 8 rebounds.
Canadian RJ Barrett led the Knicks in scoring in the loss, putting up 27 points on a very efficient 9/13 from the floor. Julius Randle had a solid outing with 22 points and 9 rebounds, but had 3 costly turnovers. Kemba Walker finished with 15 points, while Evan Fournier scored 12. The Knicks bench was quiet much like the Raptors, only shooting 7/22 as a unit and looking sloppy with the basketball.
The Raptors shooting percentages still weren’t pretty on Monday night, but they won big in the turnover battle once again, forcing 16 turnovers while only committing 8. The extra shots went to good use, especially in the third quarter, as Anunoby became automatic regardless of who was switching onto him.
Goran Dragic was once again a DNP, but a few fresh faces found minutes in Monday’s win. Rookie signing Justin Champagnie played 7 minutes and registered his first two NBA points at the line, while Malachi Flynn played a season-high 11 minutes, finishing with 4 points and 3 rebounds.
The loss for the Knicks was only their second on the season as they dropped to 5-2, while the Raptors have reversed a shaky opening week and won their fourth straight to move to 5-3, and a perfect 3-0 on the road. It’s been close to a dream start for the Raptors who have won games and received spectacular individual efforts, especially from Barnes and Anunoby, two players that were focal points heading into this Raptors season.
Both teams will return to action on Wednesday as the Raptors travel to Washington to try and avenge their opening night loss against the Wizards, while the Knicks will look to get back on track in Indiana.
Anunoby – 36 PTS 6 REB 2 AST
Trent Jr. – 26 PTS 2 REB 2 AST
VanVleet – 17 PTS 9 REB 8 AST
Barrett – 27 PTS 6 REB 0 AST
Randle – 22 PTS 9 REB 5 AST
Robinson – 6 PTS 12 REB 3 AST