Dominant third quarter lifts Toronto Raptors to 116-101 win over Knicks

Toronto Raptors throttle Knicks 116-101

TORONTO — Late in the third quarter Sunday afternoon, Kyle Lowry threw his arms in the air gesturing the Air Canada Centre crowd to stand up and cheer.

The fans needed little prodding.

Lowry had just fed DeMar DeRozan for a driving dunk as part of a thoroughly dominant third-quarter performance by the Toronto Raptors, en route to a 116-101 victory over a horrible New York Knicks team.

With their 27th victory coming one game before the midway point of the NBA season, the Raptors are guaranteed of at least tying their best first half in franchise history: 27 in 2014-15. And they’ve already topped the 26 wins they had at the midway point last season en route to a franchise-best 56-win regular season. 

The difference this season?

“We’re not putting ourselves in predicaments where we’ve got to fight extremely hard just to get back in the game, with a run late like we did last year,” DeRozan said. “We’re taking advantage of the third and fourth quarters to come out even more aggressive, and it’s paying off.” 

DeRozan finished with 23 points, while Lowry had 16 to go with nine assists, in just 28 minutes of action apiece. The two all-stars spent the fourth quarter on the bench, a bonus that could pay off big come the grind of the post-season.

“It’s huge,” coach Dwane Casey said. “To cut down (DeRozan’s) minutes, cut down Kyle’s minutes is important. You don’t see it all at once, but as the year goes on, movement gets a little slower so we want to make sure we watch their minutes and when we play that way and get leads, you can get rest.”

Jonas Valanciunas recorded his 15th double-double of the season with 12 points and 16 rebounds for the Raptors (27-13), who are 8-0 against Atlantic Division opponents. Norman Powell contributed 21 points, while DeMarre Carroll had 20, and Terrence Ross chipped in 12. 

Carmelo Anthony had 18 points to top the Knicks (18-23), while Derrick Rose — who landed in hot water earlier in the week after missing a game without notice to return to Chicago for a family emergency — added 16.

The Raptors were coming off a 132-113 thumping of Brooklyn on Friday that set a franchise-high for points in a non-overtime game, and saw them score 42 points in the fourth quarter.

No late-game heroics were needed Sunday. The Raptors broke the game open with a 25-2 run to start the third quarter, having their way against a Knicks team that all but disappeared on the defensive end. The Raptors locked down on the defensive end, holding New York to just eight points in the frame.

“We’re not going to become a defensive juggernaut overnight but the way we played the third quarter has to be our disposition, at least make people feel us,” Casey said. “If we’re just going through the motions trying to win 50 games, cool. But if we want to do something important, we have to make sure we play like we did in the third quarter.

“We don’t want to stay the same, we’ve got to continue to work and get better, not just be happy stacking up wins.”  

Toronto led by as many as 38 points twice in the third, and took an insurmountable 96-62 advantage into a fourth quarter that saw Casey sit all of his starters.

The Knicks would pull to within 13 points with just a minute to play, but the game was all but over.

“We weren’t good enough playing defence and it just ballooned up from there,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said of his team’s horrible third-quarter effort.  

Comparing the Raptors to last season, Powell said he believes they have more chemistry. 

“We are a lot more together. Not that we weren’t last year, but I think the guys coming back, knowing our roles more, (Carroll) is healthy, so we have all our starting five back for a long part of the season. I think that’s what is helping us. The veteran guys being able to play and play off one another and the second unit is still coming in and producing.”

Toronto’s Patrick Patterson sat out the game with a strained left knee, while the Knicks were without Kristaps Porzingis (sore Achilles).  

The Knicks put up a decent fight through a first quarter that saw the Raptors hold a brief eight-point lead. Toronto took a 27-26 advantage into the second.

The Raptors began the second quarter with a 12-2 run, to open an 11-point lead on their visitors. A DeRozan finger roll had Toronto up by 16 points with 3:11 left to play, and the Raptors took a 69-54 lead into the halftime break.

The Raptors play their next three on the road, opening Tuesday in Brooklyn. They play in Philadelphia on Wednesday, then Charlotte on Friday before returning home to host the Phoenix Suns next Sunday.  

Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version reported that the Raptors had 49 wins last season.

Just Posted

Royal engineer to reeve: New exhibit explores life of Langley pioneer

Langley Centennial Museum has an exhibit outlining the life and times of pioneer Philip Jackman.

Langley School District Foundation volunteers tackle wrapping projects of all sizes, shapes

This year’s wrap money goes to food and homeless initiatives.

Cold nights mean homeless turned away from Langley shelter

The Gateway of Hope shelter has had send some people to other shelters as they ran out of room.

Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings

B.C.’s prosecution service says judge’s decision reveals ‘errors of law’

Many turn out for Langley neighbourhood celebration

The second annual Brookswood Night of Lights on Dec. 8 kicked off the holiday season.

VIDEO: New series takes in-depth look at sexual harassment in B.C.

Black Press takes a hard look at sexual harassment in B.C.

2017 word of the year: Feminism

Merriam-Webster’s word of the year for 2017: ‘Feminism’

200 Russians to compete in Olympics as neutrals

The Russian Olympic Committee expects 200 to compete in South Korea

5 to start your day

Gordie Hogg takes South Surrey White Rock, Crown appeals stay against Jamie Bacon in Surrey Six killings and more

Researchers claim the ‘man flu’ does exist

Review of scientific studies suggests ‘man flu’ may be more intense: researcher

Trudeau appoints Supreme Court chief justice

Prime Minister Trudeau appoints Richard Wagner as Supreme Court chief justice

Liberal Hogg wins South Surrey-White Rock byelection over Conservative Findlay

B.C. riding to be represented by non-conservative for first time in decades

Six-year-old boy needs $19,000 a month to treat rare form of arthritis

Mother of sick Sooke boy asks government to help fund treatments

Environmental groups slam NDP decision to continue with Site C

Construction industry, meanwhile, is cautiously optimistic about how the project will look

Most Read