Knicks hold off Raptors fightback to secure win
The Knicks made it back to back wins at the Garden on Sunday as the held off a second half fight back from the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors failed to kick on in the second half of their back to back after setting a franchise record with 87 first half points and a win against the Cavs on Saturday night.
The Knicks were the fresher of the two teams and they looked it in the first quarter as they opened up an 11 point lead.
The Raptors were struggling with their shot and managed just 16 first half points but they managed to steady the ship in the second quarter thanks to a nine point haul from the returning Kyle Lowry.
The Knicks still managed to extend their lead in the second however with their defense restricting the Raptors to just 42 points and Julius Randle dropping a game high 18 first half points. HT: Raptors 42-56 Knicks.
The Knicks picked up where they left off in the second half as the quickly extended their lead to 18 points but then the Raptors stars began to find their touch and the Knicks offense went cold.
Nerlens Noel kept the Knicks afloat with some big defensive plays but Gary Trent Jr & Pascal Siakam combined for 21 third quarter points (14 & 7) to bring the Raptors to within two points of the Knicks heading into the fourth quarter of play.
The Raptors second unit, led by Malachi Flynn, took charge early in the final quarter as Toronto took their first lead of the game. The Raptors thought they had pulled into a seven point lead midway through the fourth but a Malachi Flynn three pointer was chalked off during a timeout as he had stepped out of bounds to reduce the lead back to four.
The Knicks had to rely on Alec Burks once again in the fourth quarter as he dropped all eight of his points in the final quarter to wrestle the lead back for New York but after Kyle Lowry cut the deficit back to one with under a minute remaining, Barrett & Randle took over.
After appearing to have missed their opportunity the ball was put in Randle's hands and he found RJ Barrett in the corner and the second year man hit a crucial three pointer to make it 98-94 with just 34 seconds remaining.
From there, Siakam hit a quick layup to cut the lead back to two points before the Raptors big man committed a crucial turnover. Following a Knicks timeout, Kyle Lowry stole the ball following a bad pass from Burks but he pushed the ball ahead to Pascal Siakam who double dribbled with the lane open for an easy layup.
This mistake proved pivotal as Julius Randle was able to ice the game from the free throw line. The Knicks star finished with 26 pts 8 rebs & 5 assists, going 11 of 11 from the free throw line.
The Knicks move four games clear in the race for the play-in tournament in the East while the Raptors sit two games back on the 10th place Bulls. Final Score in MSG: Raptors 96-102 Knicks.