The New York Knicks came into tonight's game on a five game winning streak and had already beaten the Toronto Raptors in the stretch. The team had not lost a game since Mike Woodson became head coach and it was playing far better than when it was with Mike D'Antoni.
The Knicks were playing much better defense and their star players shined as the center pieces to the team's offense. It was clear that Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire were comfortable with Woodson and that was evident in their play during the past few weeks.
The Knicks opened up the game a little off and were not able to convert on their shot attempts. There were several occasions where the Knicks would miss point-blank layups or wide-open shots on the perimeter. The Raptors, on the other hand, were clicking on all cylinders and they were anxious to avenge their previous loss. With 4:50 left in the first quarter, the Raptors held a 19-11 lead.
New York's star players were having an off game from the field and that resulted in a poor first quarter performance. After 12 minutes of play, Anthony had four points on 2-7 shooting and Jeremy Lin had two points on 1-4 shooting. As a result, the Raptors were ahead 25-16. The Knicks as a team were shooting 36 percent from the field and has amassed seven early turnovers.
The Knicks made a push in the second quarter and it was all propelled by Baron Davis. With Lin on the bench, Davis played extremely well and ran the offense with confidence and flow. There were many times where the Knicks had a chance to retake the lead, but the Raptors made key baskets at pivotal moments. Although New York's stars were not having a great game, the reserves kept the team in striking distance.
At halftime the Knicks were facing a 39-33 deficit and turned a large deficit into a manageable hole.
The Knicks carried their momentum into the second half and eventually used an 8-0 run to get within one point. Everything was clicking for the Knicks and they were playing well on both ends of the court. However, just like the second quarter, the Raptors made key shots at big moments. New York was slowly working towards getting the lead, but the Raptors used their shot making ability and athleticism to keep a cushion from the Knicks.
However, the Raptors did more than just keep the Knicks away. The went on a massive run in the latter half of the third quarter and took complete control of the game with a 19-4 run. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Toronto Raptors held a 70-53 lead.
The story in the fourth quarter was the same and the Knicks could not put a major dent in the Raptors' lead. Toronto kept is foot on the gas pedal and eventually held off the Knicks for a 96-79 win.