1/2/12

Raptors Start Strong And Hang On In NYC

Well the Raptors do catch a break before the ball even went up in MSG. No Amare Stoudemire for the Knicks. The Raptors would take full advantage of that. Andrea Bargnani had in the past had one of his best performances as pro at MSG. Early on it looked like he might top that performance on this night. Bargnani was an army of one in the first quarter. There was not a lot of support other than from Demar DeRozan. The problem was the Raptors were having some issues defending the 3 and Carmelo Anthony was leading the charge behind the arc. He had three triples and 13 points all totalled in the first and the Knicks had a slim 23-22 leading. They shot 5-12 from three point range in the quarter.

What happened in the 2nd was an explosion of Raptor offence and their D had made some adjustments and it all was working well. Bargnani had to take a seat in the first after picking up 2 fouls in the first. But the Raptors would battle hard with out him starting the second quarter on a 8-0 run. The Knicks would take 4 minutes before they recorded a point. Carmelo Anthony would be the guy to get the Knicks on the board finally. But it was an impressive defensive effort from the Raptors and they had a 17 point halftime lead and were holding the Knicks to 28.2% shooting. There is no way the Raptors can mess this up right?

This is the Raptors so where there is a will to blow a lead there is a way. In the 3rd the Raptors offence went into deep freeze and the Knicks led by Carmelo Anthony would chop the Raptor lead down. It took 6:30 for the Knicks to erase 11 points off the Raptors 17 point lead. The Raptors were able to stop the bleeding a little and managed to escape the 3rd quarter with a 9 point lead.

But they had an 11 point lead last night and that was not enough. It sure looked like 9 was not going to be either. The Knicks would get as close as 3 on several occasions. The game was coming down the stretch and after 3 quarters of doing very little, other than getting his butt kicked by Mello, Rasaul Butler made some key shots and rebounds. But after a couple of free throws from Bargnani who after his hot start had chilled. But in being fair the Raptors were not getting him very many touches. But in the clutch Bargnani made to key free throws as mentioned. It would come down to a play out of a time out. Something went wrong for the Knicks. Not sure what the play was suppose to be, but a Mello three with still lots of time on shot clock and 17 seconds left in game was not it. Raps would get the rebound and they made the free throws from Carter to ice it. They hang on to win 90-85 and shock the Knicks at MSG.

This was far from perfect let's be honest. But the fact the Raptors did hang on to the win could be the break through this team needed. This could be a breakthrough moment for this team. What happens next will greatly determine that. The Raptors needed this win badly though to re-enforce that despite not winning the last 3 games they had played better. In Casey's mission to keep this team buying into his message it was a win in more than just the standings. The Raptors come home 2-3 which is a big difference mentally than 1-4. A rematch against a Cavs team that has rebounded nicely after dropping there home opener to these Raptors. Tristan Thompson comes home to Toronto it should be a special night at the ACC. Speaking of Canadians it should be noted that despite not scoring a point, Magloire was able to haul in 10 rebounds tonight which contributed to the Raptors winning the battle of the boards 44-39.

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