Raptors can't handle hot Knicks

The Raptors' Jerryd Bayless drives past the Knicks' Toney Douglas on Sunday afternoon.
(DAVE...

The Raptors' Jerryd Bayless drives past the Knicks' Toney Douglas on Sunday afternoon. (DAVE THOMAS/QMI Agency)

STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:30 PM ET

TORONTO - Early in the first quarter on Sunday afternoon, the New York Knicks went on a 8-0 run to grab a 21-10 lead on the shell-shocked Raptors when referee Courtney Kirkland called a questionable foul on Sonny Weems.

The foul resulted in two successful free throws by Knicks guard Landry Fields and a 23-10 New York lead.

As the play moved to the Toronto end of the court, Kirkland ran past the Raptors bench and shouted to Raptors coach Jay Triano, “I messed up babe.”

Give the man points for being honest.

But in the big scheme of things, it was the Raptors who messed up, allowing the Knicks to run and shoot with virtual impunity in front of 16,891 at the Air Canada Centre. The visiting Knicks shot 49% from the floor and 44% from the three-point line (12-for-27) to hammer the Raptors 116-99.

“When that team shoots (44%) from the three-point line, they win,” Triano said of the red-shot Knicks, who are now 9-4 on the road this year after going 11-30 away from Madison Square Garden last season. “We tried to get them off the three-point line, we didn’t do it.”

The loss snapped a two-game win streak for the Raptors and wasted a great effort by Raptors forward Amir Johnson, who recorded a career high 16 rebounds along with a season-high 22 points, as well as three steals and two blocked shots.

“I’m taking the open shots and I’m not rushing anything,” said Johnson, who shot 10-for-14 from the field. “I know Jose (Calderon) and JB (Jerryd Bayless) are going to be looking for me on the roll, so I just try to make myself available and knock down my shots.”

Johnson played hard at both ends of the court and was one of the few Raptors who was able to contain New York star Amar’e Stoudemire, who had a game-high 31 points and 16 rebounds. Late in the fourth quarter, Johnson fouled Stoudemire so hard, the all-star centre’s trademark glassed were knocked ajar. Still, Stoudemire, who shot 12-for-24 from the field, has been on a huge tear, averaging close to 35 points in his last four games and has now, on a personal level, won 11 in a row against the Raptors, two this season and nine previous with the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s real tough. You can just slow down the guy,” Toronto forward Sonny Weems, who struggled with only four points and three boards in 24 minutes, said of Stoudemire. “You really can’t stop a guy who can shoot anytime he wants to. Every play they go through him, it’s like a 50-50 chance you can stop him.”

Stoudemire pounded 15 points in the fourth quarter alone as the Raptors, who trailed by 18 at one point in the game, fought back to make it a seven-point contest after three quarters (82-75).

“There are times when you have to take over, and I felt the fourth quarter was the time to be dominant,” said Stoudemire. “Toronto was doing a great job fighting back, trying to plow their way back into the game, and I felt the fourth quarter was a great opportunity for me to go ahead, try and be dominant out there and take control of the game.”

Shooting a season-low 50% (11-of-22) from the free-throw line didn’t help the Raptors' cause. The Knicks were 86% (18-of-21).

“We’re in the top half of the league in free-throw shooting (so) I don’t know what that is. That’s going to happen sometimes,” said a frustrated Triano.

The other standout for the Raptors was backup point guard Bayless who, in 27 minutes off the bench, picked up a season-high 23 points, seven rebounds and six assists, including one late in the third when he fed a bounce pass to Johnson under the basket and the Raptors forward slammed it to bring the Raptors to within seven.

Guard Leandro Barbosa had a tough shooting day for Toronto off the bench, going 1-for-9 from the floor for three points in 23 minutes.


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