The Toronto Raptors are soaring on the offensive end and will try to stay hot when they host the New York Knicks on Friday in the opener of a quick two-game homestand. The Raptors scored at least 119 points in each of their wins during a 4-1 stretch, with the lone loss a one-point setback against the dominant Boston Celtics on the road.
Toronto turned some heads by winning both ends of a road back-to-back at Houston and New Orleans while scoring an average of 127 points. “I think we’re just playing together, understanding the game plan each and every night,” guard Kyle Lowry told the media after the 125-116 victory over the Pelicans. “I think everyone is locked into what we’re trying to do. We’re a good team.” The Knicks are making the same claim amid an 8-3 stretch, although seven of the wins have come at home and they lost each of their last seven games against Toronto. Tim Hardaway Jr.’s late 3-pointer lifted New York to a 106-101 win over Utah on Wednesday to cap a 2-1 homestand.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, MSG (New York), Sportsnet ONE (Toronto)
ABOUT THE KNICKS (8-6): Hardaway scored four points on 2-of-11 shooting in the opener of the homestand before averaging 27 points, eight rebounds, 5.5 assists and making 7-of-17 3-pointers over the next two contests. The emerging star had 14 of his 26 points in Wednesday’s win in the fourth quarter, including seven in the final 32 seconds as he thrived on the energy at Madison Square Garden. “It was awesome,” Hardaway told reporters. “Those are the moments you live for; you live for and you dream of when you’re a kid. Come into a grand stadium like this and making game-winners, making go-ahead baskets and playing defense and giving the fans what they want.”
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (9-5): It is no wonder that Lowry’s emergence from an early slump has keyed Toronto’s offensive surge, as the veteran point guard is finding the rhythm that carried the squad many times last season. “Coaches are preaching when you’ve got open looks, take them and be aggressive in all the things that you do,” he told the media. After missing all four of his shots and getting ejected in a loss to Washington on Nov. 5, the 31-year-old was shooting 37.6 percent from the floor, but he’s at 48.3 percent while averaging 19 points in five games since.
1. Raptors SG DeMar DeRozan averaged 32 points in four wins against the Knicks last season.
2. New York PF Kristaps Porzingis is averaging 21 points - nearly eight below his season average - over the last two games and shot below 50 percent from the field in consecutive outings for the first time this season.
3. Toronto SF C.J. Miles hit a combined 11-of-18 3-pointers in the wins over Houston and New Orleans.
PREDICTION: Raptors 119, Knicks 111