Raptors look to conquer depleted Knicks

Carmelo Anthony will be in the lineup when the Raptors host the Knicks. CP/Graham Hughes

Some NBA teams are bad matchups for the Toronto Raptors but as of late, the New York Knicks are not one of them.

The Raptors have won both meetings this season and will look to push their win streak to four vs. the Knicks as they kick off a home-and-home series tonight on Sportsnet One (7 pm ET/ 4 pm PT).

The Knicks have been decimated by injuries on their front line as of late with Tyson Chandler and Kurt Thomas joining Amare Stoudemire and Rasheed Wallace on the disabled list.

Carmelo Anthony did return in the Knicks’ 106-94 win over the Orlando Magic Wednesday. He played over 32 minutes and scored 21 points while grabbing eight rebounds.

“It (the knee) felt good for the most part,” Anthony told the team’s official website. “At the beginning of the game I wanted to try to see if I could do everything movement-wise and it felt pretty good. I was pain free tonight.”

Here are a few more thoughts to consider ahead of tonight’s game:

Seeing things

Are eye issues the reason why Rudy Gay has seen his shooting percentage fall over the last couple of seasons?

The Raptors forward has been testing out goggles in practice after a trip to an optometrist who said that something might be wrong.

“When we were in L.A., I went to the eye doctor and saw some imbalance in my vision,” Gay told sportsnet.ca’s Holly Mackenzie. “It’s something I have to take care of in the offseason.”

Gay also said that fitted contacts will not solve the issue in case you were wondering.

Seeing things

Raptors rookie Jonas Valanciunas continues to see his minutes climb as he gets adjusted to the league.

Over the past five games, the Lithuanian centre has seen his minutes rise by almost eight per game. His production has also increased as he is scoring 13.2 points per game while grabbing seven rebounds per game.

The young buck

One of things that has impressed those around the Raptors camp the most has been Valancunias’ fearlessness.

“He doesn’t care if it’s Tim Duncan or somebody else,” Raptors colour commentator Leo Rautins told the Globe and Mail’s Robert MacLeod. “He just wants to play and compete.”
“He doesn’t back down from anybody, and that’s something you can’t teach,” Gay added.

In Wednesday’s loss to Charlotte, Valanciunas dropped in 18 points while snaring eight rebounds.

“I’m glad I have a lot of minutes right now to play,” Valanciunas said. “That’s helping to develop me.”

Tourney time

Raptors point guard Sebastian Telfair and forward Amir Johnson were two of the final NBA players to enter the NBA draft directly from high school so the pair really have no ties to March Madness.

For his part, Telfair may have been better served working on his game in college for a year or two but he has no regrets on his decision to bypass the collegiate route.

“I definitely don’t regret it in any kind of way,” Telfair told the National Post’s Eric Koreen.

“I wish I could go back and have that experience, because I know, the older that I get, that experiences mean a lot. They define who you are at the end of the day. But I know a couple of guys who were in my same position who went to school and never got to the NBA. I’m here, and this is the ultimate goal, no matter what route you take, especially if you’ve played as long as I’ve been playing.”

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