WHAT IT MEANS: The Knicks lost their fourth game in a row -- the first time they've done that since Mike D'Antoni coached the team last March.
The Knicks trailed for most of the game, and then made a fourth-quarter push led by Carmelo Anthony (a team-high 32 points) and J.R. Smith (19 points). But the Knicks didn't have enough offensive balance down the stretch to get the win. They had 16 turnovers in the game.
The Raptors were led by their star, Rudy Gay (32 points), and four other players in double-figure scoring.
NEAR TURNING POINT: For most of the first three quarters, the Knicks were, once again, lost defensively on perimeter rotations, and Gay made them pay. He scored 17 points in the third period alone off mostly jump shots. But the Knicks buckled up right at the start of the fourth quarter, making stops and going on a quick 7-0 run to decrease their deficit to only two points.
From there, the Knicks and Raptors went back and forth trading big buckets. While the Knicks' defense down low, fueled by Tyson Chandler (five blocks), was helpful, Gay made some big free throws and Kyle Lowry hit a key runner with 28 seconds remaining to seal the victory.
KEY TAKEAWAY: The Knicks' up-tempo game. The Knicks entered Friday third-worst in the NBA in fast-break points per game (9.1) but had seven in the first quarter. Raymond Felton (10 points) was explosive in the open court and very aggressive attacking. Also, Anthony and Smith looked to push the ball, and they made plays. The team had been playing at a slower pace during its three-game losing streak, but the Knicks looked to switch that up against the Raptors.
Their fast-paced style helped them out at the start of the fourth quarter when they went on a big run. Steve Novak had a 3-pointer and then Smith had one a few possessions later, which tied the game at 86. Of course, they wouldn't have had these opportunities if they didn't play solid defense, which they did down the stretch.
SO OFFENSIVE: The Knicks got called for seven offensive fouls: Chandler (twice), Amar'e Stoudemire (twice), Anthony, Smith and Iman Shumpert. The Knicks said they had one of their best practices of the season Thursday, because it was physical and productive, and they carried over some of that intensity to Friday night. But it was a little too much at times.
WHAT'S NEXT: The Knicks come home Sunday for the first time since the All-Star break to face the 76ers (22-30), who are right above the Raptors in the Atlantic Division standings.
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