For the second time in 10 days, the Toronto Raptors have defeated the New York Knicks.
With his mother on hand to watch the game, Rudy Gay scored a season-high 32 points to lead the way for the Raptors as they held on for a 100-98 victory in a thriller at the Air Canada Centre.
“Down the stretch, I thought that Rudy (Gay) put us on his back and carried us,” Dwane Casey said after the game.
After a poor showing against the Knicks in New York last week, Gay was fantastic Friday night. Shaking off a slow start, Gay scored 17 points (7-for-9 shooting) in the third quarter to help the Raptors create a nine-point cushion.
Gay looked like a player the Raptors have been without for quite some time; a star scorer who could match the likes of Carmelo Anthony shot for shot.
Anthony had high praise for the performance from Gay, saying, “He played fantastic. He made shots. When it was time to make shots he made them.”
While Anthony finished with 32 points of his own, they were neutralized by the big night from Gay. Kyle Lowry finished with 15 points and seven assists, and had the prettiest shot of the night with a high-arcing floater in the lane over Tyson Chandler with 28 seconds in the fourth to put the Raptors ahead by two.
“It was a big-game play,” Casey said of Lowry’s spectacular shot. “He made big-time plays…We did a good job executing down the stretch.”
Lowry was much more understated when asked about the bucket. “I wanted to try to get to the basket instead of taking the jump shot,” he explained. “That’s a great defender [Chandler]. He was the defensive player of the year so I just tried to get it to my right hand, and get the floater off and to get the shot over him.”
After Chandler made just one of two free throws, Gay was fouled and sank both of his attempts from the line with 21 seconds remaining to put Toronto ahead by three. Gay was also there to rebound a deep miss from three by Anthony and he was fouled. Gay made it a two-possession game with two made free throws and the Raptors grabbed their 23rd win of the season in front of a sold-out crowd.
Third quarter turning point
While the game went down to the wire, the Raptors had a huge third quarter. Rather than coming out from the half at half speed, they outscored the Knicks 31-19 in the quarter after trailing by three going into the break.
“They shot 50 per cent at halftime,” Casey said of the Knicks. “That was not very good. The Knicks are so smart and defensively savvy…I thought we battled and it was playoff-type game. We had a couple of breakdowns, but our defence was pretty solid.”
Gay himself nearly matched the total scoring output of the Knicks team with 17 points in the quarter. He did top their made field goals as he finished with seven made field goals in the quarter, compared to four by the Knicks. New York shot just 31 percent in the frame, while the Raptors connected on 57 percent of their shots.
DeRozan and Gay gladly sharing the spotlight (and the ball)
The Raptors’ top two scorers took turns taking over offensively. DeMar DeRozan finished with 18 points on the night, to go along with six assists and did the bulk of his scoring (16 of his 18 points) in the second and third quarters.
The duo combined for 25 of the team’s 31 points in the third. Recognizing that Gay was in a groove, DeRozan attempted just one shot in the fourth, staying active and spacing the floor to help Gay get solid, open looks.
“Rudy closed it out for us,” DeRozan said. “He was hot and that’s what he does and that’s why we got him.”
Casey pointed to the professionalism of both players as the reason why they have co-existed so well.
“Both guys are professionals,” he said. “DeMar understands that when Rudy has it going, it is Rudy’s night. Rudy understands that when DeMar has it going, it is DeMar’s night…we do not have any selfish players on the team.”
Gay echoed the sentiments of his coach and teammates after the game.
“DeMar had it going early,” Gay said. “We’re a team and within the team, we [DeRozan and Gay] are a team. We play off of each other.”
New addition Telfair touches down in Toronto
While newly acquired point guard Sebastian Telfair wasn’t available against to play against the Knicks, he did arrive in Toronto during the game.
Midway through the fourth quarter Telfair appeared in the tunnel leading into the locker room to watch his new teammates grab a victory over his hometown Knicks.
The former Phoenix Sun received a huge ovation from the crowd when he was shown on the jumbotron where he gave a smile and a wave.