Game Preview: Raptors at Knicks
Toronto Raptors (48-17) @ New York Knicks (24-42)
When: Sunday, March 11, 1 P.M. ET
Where: Madison Square Garden
Broadcast info: SN1, TSN1050
Toronto recorded a 113-88 victory against the Knicks on the Air Canada Centre floor in early February in the last meeting between these teams. Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 points to go with 10 rebounds, Pascal Siakam added 14 points, and Serge Ibaka and Jakob Poeltl each added 13 points as Toronto took care of business early, allowing their starters to take the entire fourth quarter off. Toronto led by five after one, 11 at the half, and 16 heading into the final frame. The Raptors had five bench players reach double figures, outscoring New York's bench 61-35 in the game. The Knicks were led by Michael Beasley's 21 points in the loss.
LEADING INTO TONIGHT'S GAME
Injury report: For Toronto, OG Anunoby (sprained right ankle) and Delon Wright (sprained right big toe) are both listed as doubtful. For the Knicks, Kristaps Porzingis (torn left ACL) and Ron Baker (right shoulder surgery) are out. Joakim Noah (personal reasons) is not with the team.
Exclamation point win: Toronto won its seventh straight game on Friday, defeating the NBA-leading Houston Rockets 108-105, snapping Houston's 17-game winning streak. After a 32-16 opening quarter, Toronto held on as Houston came roaring back late, thanks to a 40-point effort from James Harden. That first quarter was one for the history books: the last time an NBA team doubled the score in the first or second quarter of an opponent that entered the game on a winning streak of at least 15 games was the Detroit Falcons against the Washington Capitols on New Year's Day 1947.
Business trip: After moving to an NBA-best 28-5 at home following Friday's win, the Raptors kick off a three-game road trip in New York against the Knicks in a Sunday matinee. After Sunday's game, they will stay in New York to take on the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, before finishing out the trip in Indiana to face the Pacers on Thursday.
Lowry over everything: While James Harden scored a game-high 40 points in Toronto's victory against the Rockets on Friday, no one was better on both ends of the floor than Kyle Lowry. Helping Toronto get off to a 16-point lead after the opening quarter, Lowry was spectacular, scoring 30 points on a ridiculous 10-for-14 field goals, including 7-for-9 from beyond the arc. He added three rebounds, six assists, and a steal in his 33 minutes. On the season, Lowry is leading the NBA in charges drawn with 30 through 64 games.
Free throws: The Rockets put Toronto on the line twice in the final 10 seconds of Friday's 108-105 Raptors victory. First it was Kyle Lowry (with 10.7 seconds remaining), then Jonas Valanciunas (with 5.4 seconds on the clock), to step up calmly to the line and drill both free throws. Toronto was 11-of-14 from the line, but a perfect 4-for-4 in the fourth with the game on the line.
Keep it moving: Almost immediately after Friday's thrilling win, Dwane Casey was already thinking about the Knicks. Though proud of his team for sticking with the game plan, he shared that he had told the team to enjoy Friday's victory until midnight, then shift focus to Sunday's game in New York. "It's a big game, don't get me wrong, Casey said. "To break their streak, a great team's streak but, again, we're on a mission. It's one game and if we go to New York and stub our toe, what are you going to say? It's a marathon; it's one game in the regular season. We lose it, okay so what, we've got to get ready for New York. If we win it, we've got to get ready for New York [all the same.]"