The Knicks found another way to lose on Friday. At the Air Canada Centre, they fell 100-98 to the Toronto Raptors for their fourth defeat in a row. Unlike Wednesday’s 125-91 nightmare in Indiana, this one came down to the final few plays.
“[The Indiana game] hurt a bunch of different ways because we all felt like we didn’t give the proper effort,” said Knicks center Tyson Chandler. “This one tonight, we played hard enough to win the basketball game. We just didn’t execute.”
Head coach Mike Woodson was particularly displeased with the execution down the stretch. The Knicks fought back from a 79-70 deficit at the beginning of the fourth quarter and tied the game at 86 with just under seven minutes to go. New York’s late-game offense lacked ball movement and Woodson wanted his team to attack the basket more.
“I thought our shot selection was awful,” Woodson said. “We were in the penalty and we settled. Sometimes the 3s are appetizing ... you think you’re open and you can make them. We’ve made them this year like that, but going back looking at the tape, the last two minutes, we had opportunities to take the ball to the rim and make plays and they were blowing the whistle. I have to think we would have got some calls, but we didn’t, we settled.”
“They made the plays down the stretch and we didn’t.”
The teams were tied at 95 with a minute and a half left; New York didn’t make a field goal after that. Guarded by point guard Kyle Lowry with just under a minute left, forward Carmelo Anthony made a crosscourt pass to Raymond Felton and Felton missed a 3 that would given his team the lead.
“[Anthony] kind of got rid of it too soon,” said Woodson. "When he caught it he had an opportunity to drive it right away to the win and he kind of let it go.”
“Without a doubt, I think I should have [shot it],” said Anthony. “I know now especially after watching it. I think my play was definitely a play I should’ve took advantage of Lowry being up there on me. I should’ve drove to the basket, tried to create something else.”
While they were outperformed in the clutch, the Knicks put themselves in that position with their poor third quarter. Toronto started the third on a 25-9 run, all but two of those points coming from wing players Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan. The Knicks committed six turnovers in the first six minutes of the third and allowed Gay to shoot 7-for-9 and score 17 of his eventual 32 points in the period.
New York has been outscored by an average of 9.3 points in the third quarter in their last three games.
“We came out very sluggish in the third again,” said Woodson. “I don’t know if I’m keeping them too long in the locker room, but we have to adjust something, if it means changing the lineup to start the third quarter. We got that slow start in the third, they built their lead and we were able to withstand it and come back, but we didn’t play smart coming down the stretch.”
The Knicks gave a different kind of effort than they did on Wednesday. But now, on their longest losing streak of the season, it’s about getting a different result.