The Raptors prior to this one took the advice the Dino Nation Blog has been offering from the start of the season They waived which is a nice way to say cut Rasaul Butler who had been a major disappointment the entire season. He had been buried on the bench for quite some time. Raptors may be looking at bringing in some guys on 10 days now with both Carter and now Butler released and the roster down to the bare minimum. That is in the days to come as for tonight they take on the New York Knicks and Jeremy Lin returns to the site of one of the big moments of his Linsanity to run here at the ACC. Knicks are in a tight race to hang on to a playoff spot so expect them to be going all out against the Raptors tonight.
DeRozan opens up the scoring with a baseline jumper and that is followed by a Bargnani three and Raptors open up with 5-0 lead. Bargnani with a nice move draws a foul on a nice pump fake by Bargnani sending him to the line for a pair and Raptors had a 9-2 lead. Raptors had an 11-4 lead and Mike Woodson who was a perfect 5-0 coming into this one as Knicks head coach wanted a time out. Raptors were taking 3 pointers and not making them giving the Knicks a chance to get back in this game but they were not taking full advantage still down 15-9. DeRozan with a nice two point effort nails it. Lin answers with a drive and score to mix of cheers and boos. Raptors were on fire early 8/15 from field and another DeRozan bucket. Amare Stoudemire with a nice score in the paint and the Raptors still had a 19-14 lead. Jeremy Lin had a turnover and was getting the John Cena treatment from the Toronto crowd some cheers and some boos. Raptors had an impressive start with a 25-16 lead in the first quarter. DeRozan the more efficient but both he and Bargnani had 9 points a piece.
Knicks on shot 36.8% in that first quarter. Ed Davis after a sloppy turnover makes up for it on the next possession getting the Raptors lead to 10 at 29-19. Raptors lead kept growing and was up to 12 with a time out on the floor. Knicks cut that lead in half to 6 with 7:26 to play in the half. Knicks had a chance to cut the lead further but after a missed three they would turn it over on a bad Davis pass looking for Chandler in the lane. Again the Knicks had a chance to cut into the lead and the Raptors switched to zone which leads to a deep three from Lin that doesn't fall. But you had the feeling the Knicks were going to get back in this if they cleaned some things up. Anthony got the lead down to 4 but Bargnani nailed a jumper in the lane to make it 35-29 with just over 4 to play. James Johnson took a ill advised three made up for it with a steal and a pretty lay-up to make the lead 6 once again. Despite shooting 5/19 in the quarter the Raptors still lead this game 37-31 with 1:20 left to go in half. A missed dunk by James Johnson on an air ball Raptor attempt summed up the Raptors offense in the 2nd quarter nicely. A Novak three in corner at the buzzer made this a 3 point game at the half in favour of the Raptors. It was 39-36 and these teams looked hard pressed to to get to 80.
An Aaron Gray turnover looked to be a sign of more of the same. Jeremy Lin to cheers followed by Boos hit a 3. Stoudemire scored to get the Knicks as close as they have been with the score 41-40. Back to back Bargnani buckets with an Anthony deuce in between. Raptors would get the lead back to 5 as the Knicks seemed content to chuck up three attempt, after three attempt. The Raptors went on an 10-2 run after the Knicks got to with in one. Demar DeRozan would force the Knicks into a time out with an amazing finish on the alley oop. He had 20 and the Raptors had a 9 point lead. The Knicks offense was just awful in this game. A Chandler dunk over Bargnani out of the time out was nice though. But Amir Johnson answer with two on the other end and Knicks went right back to chucking three's as Lin missed another. Andrea Bargnani with a nice turnaround and the Raptors lead was 11 and trending upwards. Demar DeRozan wanted a three but settled for a long two and the Raptor lead was up to 14. Another DeRozan bucket made it 16 and for DeRozan he had 24 on the night and we still had 15:30 of game action to go. J.R Smith finally made a basket for the Knicks but Amir Johnson answered that score and it was 64-46 Raptors with just over 2 to play. Knicks showed a little life near end of 3rd with back to back hoops but DeRozan added two more to give the Raptors a 70-53 lead to take to the 4th.
Knicks were 1/17 from three point land. Safe to say that will need to improve for them to get back in this one that they have never led. J.R Smith makes it 1/18 from three to start the 4th. Smith would get an old fashion three with a shot and one foul to cut the lead to 14. Knicks started on a 7-0 run capped by a Novak three to make it 70-60. Gary Forbes gets back to back hoops to get the Raptors back on top by 14. Novak another 3 though and Knicks were trying to make a push. Gary Forbes was keeping the Raptors alive with 6 big points in the 4th and Bargnani had a nice slam after a J.R Smith bucket and Raptors had stabilized things and got lead back to 15. DeRozan would take it back to where we started with a huge slam and it was 82-65 Raptors. Salami and Cheese for everyone? It sure looked like it. Back to back steals finished with dunks would look similar to what the Knicks did to the Raptors earlier in the week. This time it was the Raptors rubbing the salt in the wounds on this night. Unfortunately at the end of this one with game pretty much decided Demar DeRozan would land awkwardly trying to block a shot and he would head straight for the locker room with 30 points and not returning. Solomon Albi even got in this one and scored. But the injury to DeRozan cast a damper on what was a tremendous win for the Raptors 96-79.
It was a great night for both DeRozan and Bargnani on this night. More for DeRozan but his late injury makes it hard to get the full satisfaction this win should have provided. Gary Forbes as mentioned really stepped up in the 4th and when the Raptors were on the ropes a bit he was the one that came out swinging. If DeRozan is seriously hurt it is unlikely we see him tomorrow in Chicago. The injury update on him will be vital. Ironically he would have tied Alvin Williams for the most consecutive starts in Raptors his if he were to suit up tomorrow in Chicago. That is in serious doubt now.
UPDATE 9:55PM: News on DeRozan is good. Eric Smith tweeted that DeRozan has tweeked his left ankle but should be good to go tomorrow in Chicago but will be reevaluated. So it appears he will travel with the team and will see from there.