March 23, 2012
Raptors crush Knicks
By Mike Ganter, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Punked three nights earlier in Gotham, the Raptors got a little payback Friday on its home court.
With the Knicks celebrating like they had won a playoff game — Steve Novak mimicking his championship belt was a bit much — Friday’s 96-79 beatdown had to feel extra good.
The 79 points by the Knicks were just six more than the season low for a Raptors opponent.
Owned on the boards Tuesday, the Raps won that battle handily on Friday b ya 46-39 score.
But the biggest difference was when the Knicks tried to assert their dominance, the Raptors shoved right back. Better still, by the second quarter they were instigating the physical play.
The one blight on the night may have come with about two minutes remaining when DeMar DeRozan went up for a block under his own basket and came down awkwardly. With all the bodies around him it was impossible to see exactly what transpired but DeRozan half jumped his way right off the court and back to the locker room.
Before DeRozan left, however, he put up a 30-point night on a very solid 11-of-17 shooting night.
Equally big was the fourth-quarter boost contributed by Gary Forbes, who had 14 in the final quarter putting any thoughts of a New York comeback out to pasture.
Forbes wound up with 19 on the night.
FIGHT NIGHT AT THE ACC
The tone for this one was set in New York on Tuesday night when the Knicks pushed the Raps around and eventually beat them down so that by the fourth it was like only one team was playing out there. Raptors coach Dwane Casey doesn’t like it when his team is on the receiving end of one of those so you know he was hammering the make-it-tough-for-them message. His counterpart has been doing the same since he took over five games ago.
The first half saw Carmelo Anthony and Aaron Gray exchange words and shoves. Baron Davis and Jose Calderon looked like they might go after Davis undercut the Raptors point guard, who on his way to the floor managed to rip the head band off Davis before he hit the deck. Tyson Chandler and just about every Raptor got into it on at least one occasion.
It didn’t help that the night’s referee crew didn’t exactly have a banner night with the whistle.
TRIMMING THE HERD
Rasual Butler followed Anthony Carter off the Raptors roster on Friday.
Both were brought in for their veteran presence and both were credited with helping head coach Dwane Casey instill his defence-first mentality in this Raptors team.
But like Carter, minutes were drying up for Butler as the season progressed and rather than keep him around, the team made the decision to let him go and catch on with a team that has the playoffs in their immediate future.
Only Jamaal Magloire remains of the grizzled vets brought in to help Casey change the culture.
There was talk via Andrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo that Butler might have a chance of catching on with the Bulls for which he played last season. That could turn out to be a quick reunion as Toronto visits Chicago on Saturday.
In his 34 games with Toronto, Butler averaged just over 13 minutes a night and 3.2 points a game. A decent three-point shooter throughout his career, Butler never really found the mark in Toronto.
His departure leaves the Raptors with a roster of just 12 men. Expect to see them add at least one body via a 10-day contract in the next little while.
Knicks forward Amare Stoudemire wore a hoodie during warmups and pre-game in honour of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old who was shot and killed by a neighbourhood watch patrol walking back from a convenience store. U.S. media personality Geraldo Rivera has come out saying the hoodie Martin was wearing when he was shot is as much responsible for the young man’s death as the man who shot him ... You have to hand it to Toronto basketball fans. Even in a season that will not be anywhere close to a playoff year, Friday’s game with the Knicks was a sellout.