Knicks down new-look Raptors

New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire goes up for a slam dunk against the Toronto Raptors....

New York Knicks' Amar'e Stoudemire goes up for a slam dunk against the Toronto Raptors. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

MIKE GANTER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:13 PM ET

Since they started training camp, the Raptors have preached team and unselfish basketball.

They also pounded home the need to aggressively defend the three-point line and be equally aggressive on the ball.

On the unselfishness and togetherness, the Raptors can consider opening night a pass.

The defensive principles though remain a work in progress as Wilson Chandler and Amar’e Stoudemire took turns storming through the middle of the Raptors defence leading to 52 points in the paint for the visiting Knicks who got out of Toronto with a 98-93 win.

Chandler, the player Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni left out of his starting five to provide offence with the second unit, was the leading scorer in the game going 10-for-18 from the field for a 22-point night in 30 minutes.

He was followed closely by Stoudemire who had 19, seven in a row after the Raptors had closed to within a basket with four minutes remaining.

Down the stretch the Raptors were down by three and got two key defensive stops.

After the first newcomer Linas Kleiza missed an open look from beyond the arc that would have tied it.

Another Raptor stop got them the ball back with 11 seconds remaining. Toronto guard Jarrett Jack managed to get the ball to Leandro Barbosa in the corner but his contested three didn’t find the basket, falling into the arms of New York’s Danilo Gallinari. He got the ball to Raymond Felton who was fouled and made both free throws to salt the game away.

Early on it was the Knicks’three-point shooting that got them some separation.

New York hit its first three three-pointers with rookie Landry Fields opening the gates with the first one.

But from that point on the Raptors did a much better job chasing down would-be three -point shooters as the Knicks made just four of their next 14.

Outside of Andrea Bargnani, it was a very slow start for the Raptors offence.

In fact, Bargnani scored the Raps first seven points and it wasn’t until the game was more than four minutes old that Jack became the second Raptor to score.

Bargnani wound up leading all Raps with 22 followed by 16 from Jack and 13 each from Kleiza and Barbosa.

Doing the job on the boards and looking very much like he’s going to be an even bigger fan favourite this year than he was last season was Reggie Evans. Evans had 10 boards in the first half alone and 13 by the third quarter on his way to a 16 rebound night.

It was five shy of his career high set long before he got to Toronto — but it kept the Raptors in the game, getting them new possessions on the offensive end.

The Raps still wound up losing the battle of the boards 49-45 — but without Evans’ tireless work it would have been a huge mismatch.

Evans did a decent job on Stoudemire limiting him to 19 on 7-of-16 shooting.

In crunch time, Raptors coach Jay Triano had Jack, DeMar DeRozan, Evans, Bargnani and Barbosa on the floor with the last two shots going to newcomers Barbosa and Kleiza which were both misses.

The Raps play the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday at the ACC.


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