By: Josh Weinstein
To say it was an odd night for the Toronto Raptors (11-6) at Madison Square Garden is an understatement.
Blown leads. 28-0 scoring runs. A career-high scoring night. Disappearing acts. This game featured all of the above and ended with the New York Knicks (10-7) coming away with a convincing 108-100 victory.
Everything seemed to be going the Raptors way by halftime. DeMar DeRozan was scoring at will and distributing effectively through two quarters. Typically, when the all-star finishes with an 18/4/4 halftime line, it leads to a Toronto win.
Well, in the second half, the script was flipped on its head. DeRozan didn't score another point after both teams emerged from the locker rooms to start the third quarter. DeRozan's disappearance was a contributing factor to the Raps abysmal third quarter performance, which saw them get outscored 41-10 and suffer through an embarrassing 28-0 Knicks run at one point.
Kristaps Porzingis bounced back after a disappointing performance against the Raptors at Air Canada Centre last week to finish with 22 points and 12 rebounds, but the real story of the game aside from Toronto's third quarter collapse was Tim Hardaway Jr. The Knicks $70 million man torched the Raptors for a career-high 38 points, while also finding time to chip in 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Hardaway Jr., known as a streaky shooter, was a man on a mission and didn't miss much Wednesday night. He didn't seem to get phased by any of the Raptors defenders.
Kyle Lowry was one of the lone bright spots for the Raptors, finishing with a team-high 25 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
Norman Powell made his return from a right hip pointer and came off the bench, nailing a trio of three-pointers shortly after checking in during the first quarter. Great to see Powell back in action. If I'm Dwane Casey, I'd keep him out of the starting lineup in favour of OG Anunoby's defence. Powell can be great in the second unit, especially since he can create his own offence.
The Raptors look to return to winning ways on Friday against the Indiana Pacers.