NEW YORK, Feb. 13 -- For his second game without Vince Carter, coach Lenny Wilkens tried starting all his scorers. That didn't work, either.

Wilkens' reserves managed just three points and the Toronto Raptors suffered their second straight uninspired loss, an 89-82 setback to the New York Knicks.

Carter, Toronto's superstar guard who is fifth in the NBA at 25.5 points per game, suffered a strained left quadriceps in the last game before the All-Star break and was placed on the injured list.

The Raptors also were without the injured Hakeem Olajuwon, Dell Curry and Jerome Williams. But they are an entirely different team without Carter, who draws enough attention to make many of his teammates effective.

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Latrell Sprewell scored six of his 14 points in the third quarter.
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In Tuesday's 99-81 loss at Cleveland, Wilkens used forwards Keon Clark and Morris Peterson off the bench. They finished as the team's two high scorers, but Toronto started poorly and never got back in it.

Against the Knicks, Clark and Peterson started and scored 26 and 25 points, respectively. But that left the bench short of firepower and the Knicks exploited it, getting 24 points from their reserves.

"They're a smaller lineup and I wanted to match their quickness," Wilkens said. "That was my decision, that we'd come that way first."

"Keon's been playing well and I'm doing what I can to help the team," said Peterson, who was playing just his second game since returning from a broken finger. "We don't have all our guys right now. We just have to battle through it."

Shooter Tracy Murray, bench anchor Michael Stewart, journeyman guard Jermaine Jackson and center Eric Montross combined to make just 1-of-9 shots in 39 minutes. Every starter except Chris Childs played at least 40 minutes.

"I wasn't worried about the bench being short that way. We're short -- small," Wilkens said.

Meanwhile, the Knicks got nine points and three assists from Charlie Ward, eight points and five rebounds from Othella Harrington, four points from seldom-used Travis Knight and three points from Shandon Anderson.

"They played last night and we were able to give some of our guys fewer minutes than previous nights," said Knicks coach Don Chaney, whose club had lost four of its last five games. "Our guys came in and did a very good job to rest our starters. I thought that was the difference in the game."

"That's the reason we won tonight -- because everyone contributed," Knicks guard Allan Houston said.

Kurt Thomas scored 19 points and Latrell Sprewell scored 14 for the Knicks, who nearly blew a 21-point third-quarter lead but held on to sweep the three-game season series. Last year, Toronto eliminated New York in the first round of the playoffs.

"To have a lead like we had and to let them come back and possibly win the game, it is totally unacceptable," Thomas said. "At least we were able to hold them off."

With Clark and Peterson starting, the Raptors got off quickly and held a 24-21 lead after one period. But starters sat at the outset of the second quarter, which was a disaster for the Raptors.

Toronto made just 4-of-20 shots -- three by Clark -- and got only one point from its bench -- a free throw by Stewart. Ward scored five points in a 10-0 run midway through the period and a dunk by Knight gave New York a 48-35 halftime lead.

"You should always put on the floor what's best (to match up with) your opposition," Clark said, defending his coach's decision.

"Our play in the second quarter kills us every time," said Childs, who normally comes off the bench. "It is just running uphill from there."

Thomas had a basket and three-point play early in the third quarter that pushed the lead to 54-35. Knight's tip-in gave the Knicks their largest lead at 67-46 with 3:36 to go.

Toronto trailed 71-55 entering the final period but got back in it behind Alvin Williams, who scored 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. He had five straight baskets for the Raptors before a pair of free throws by Peterson cut the deficit to 82-76 with 3:57 left.

"We wanted to nurse the lead instead of adding to it, and that's something we have to get out of," Chaney said.

Peterson's fast-break layup made it 84-80 with 2:27 remaining. Thomas responded with a corner jumper. A scoop shot by Peterson again made it a four-point game with 1:43 left, but Clarence Weatherspoon scored inside 20 seconds later and Williams missed a runner with under a minute to go.

Houston scored 13 points and Weatherspoon had 12 for the Knicks, who shot 53 percent (37-of-70) and held a 41-38 rebounding advantage.

Clark grabbed 15 rebounds and Williams handed out eight assists for the Raptors, who shot just 38 percent (32-of-85) and missed 11-of-26 free throws.

Knicks guard Mark Jackson had 10 assists before leaving with 1:17 to play with a dislocated left ring finger. X-rays were negative and he is not expected to miss any games.