Saturday, December 28, 2013
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Raptors rally to defeat Knicks

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[December 28, 2013]  NEW YORK  The Toronto Raptors won the first game of a home-and-home with the New York Knicks, using a fourth-quarter run to secure a 95-83 victory on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

The two teams square off Saturday in Toronto.

Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan led five Toronto players who scored in double figures with 25 points. Center Jonas Valancinuas had 16 points and a career-high 18 rebounds, point guard Kyle Lowry added 15 points and 11 assists, and forward John Salmons and guard Terrence Ross dropped in 11 points each.

The loss dropped New York (9-20) four games behind first-place Toronto (12-15) in the Atlantic Division.

Facing his former team for the first time, Knicks forward Andrea Bargnani had 18 points and 12 rebounds. Bargnani, averaging just 8.3 points in the last three games, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2006 NBA draft and spent his first seven years of his career with Toronto before getting traded to New York during the summer.

Bargnani filled the scoring void of forward Carmelo Anthony, who missed his second straight game because of a lingering left ankle injury he suffered Dec. 23 against Orlando.

Anthony is averaging 26.3 points and led the team in scoring in all 27 games before Wednesday when he was on the bench for the Knicks' 123-94 home loss to Oklahoma City.

Guard J.R. Smith started in Anthony's place on Friday night, scoring 17 points. Knicks point guard Beno Udrih contributed 15 points, 10 assists and four steals.


Toronto trailed 71-66 at the end of three quarters but used a 12-2 burst midway through the fourth quarter to move ahead for good at 81-75 with 6:25 left.

The Raptors outscored the Knicks 29-12 in the fourth quarter. New York missed its last three shots from the floor in the quarter.

"We played with mental toughness, made some shots, got to where we wanted to on the floor," said Lowry. "We played great defense down the stretch."

Toronto claimed its fourth win in its last five road games with another recent impressive fourth-quarter road performance. The Raptors started the final period with an 11-0 run in an overtime victory at Dallas on Dec. 20, then outscored Oklahoma City 29-14 on Sunday while handing the Thunder their first home loss.

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"I think we like playing with each other more on the road, now we have to figure a way to take it home," said Lowry. "We got them (New York) tomorrow night on our floor and we got to find a way to take what we did these last four road games and take it to our home place."

The Knicks led by as many as 12 points in the third quarter, but a 3-pointer from Lowry late in the quarter drew the Raptors to within three points at 69-66.

"We had good shots, you know we had some good looks, and just didn't make shots," said Knicks coach Mike Woodson of the fourth-quarter collapse. "I played guys in long stretches based on the fact that we were short handed and I rode the guys that got us the lead and I'm not using excuses.

"I kind of thought the legs set in at the end and shots just weren't falling. For the most part, I thought defensively we were pretty solid until the fourth quarter, giving up 29 points compared to the 26 and 22 and 18 in the first three quarters so defensively I thought we were pretty solid."

Smith poured in 11 points in the second quarter to help move the Knicks' lead to 49-40 at the half. New York shot 58 percent from 3-point range (7 of 12) in the half.

New York led 25-18 after a sloppily played first quarter. Both teams combined for 15 turnovers and 15 fouls, including two each from center Tyson Chandler, guard Iman Shumpert and guard Beno Udrih.

Bargnani scored 10 points and blocked two shots in the second quarter.

"Eventually we'll get healthy and we'll see how it all plays out," said Woodson. "The beauty about all of this in what we're going through is that nobody is running away with our division."

NOTES: The Knicks were without G Raymond Felton (strained right groin) and G Pablo Prigioni (right toe fracture). ... The Knicks entered the game 29th in the league in rebounding, averaging 39 a game and were outrebounded by Toronto 50-42. ... PG Kyle Lowry averaged 21.7 points in the Raptors' previous three games. ... The Raptors' next 11 games come against teams in the East, with only three of the matchups coming against teams that are currently above .500 (Pacers twice, and Heat). ... The Knicks are now 4-11 at home.

[ 2013 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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