A demoralizing loss to the Raptors certainly was never accounted for, however. Hosting Rudy Gay, Landry Fields, and the Raps at home in their final game before the break, the Knicks fell. And they fell hard.
Toronto didn't exactly do much to deserve a victory over the Knicks on Wednesday night. Instead, the home team defeated themselves by not getting the easy buckets to fall and failing to sink their free-throws when they counted most.
From the very beginning of the contest, the Knicks looked run down. The team lacked spacing early on, giving way to very stagnant ball movement. New York failed to truly move the rock around the perimeter to potentially cash in on easier shots. They didn't work hard enough to find better opportunities on offense, and it showed.
Carmelo Anthony seemed to struggle all game long (shooting 5 for 24), but it was later revealed to reporters that the star had hurt his shooting hard in the contest, and was feeling the pain throughout the game. Unfortunately for the Knicks, however, Anthony was not alone in wearing the collar in this one. The team collectively shot 35% from the field, and players like Anthony, J.R. Smith, and Raymond Felton all missed key free throws that would have otherwise further kept New York alive.
In a game where all his teammates seemed to struggle, Felton should be commended. Despite missing one free-throw late, the point guard attacked the basket and got to the free-throw line 12 times on the evening. His 16 points, 4 steals, and 5 assists led all starters.
With players like Jason Kidd and Iman Shumpert failing to make their impacts felt, the Knicks' bench was the unit that helped the team hang on for as long as they did. Smith led the team with 26 points, and given the struggles of his teammates, even Amar'e Stoudemire looked half decent by adding 10 points and 7 boards during a night where others fell short of playing well. Displaying quite the high- heaving arc in his shot (one that will undoubtedly be well-suited for this weekend's Three-Point Contest), Novak tried to swing the momentum his team's way by adding 9 points of his own off the pine.
But the Raptors knew just how to kill any momentum that seemed to be going in the Knicks' general direction. Whether it was by getting a stop, matching New York shot for shot, or calling a timeout to stop play, Toronto effectively combated any positive vibes the Knicks had managed to conjure up through the contest.
At the end of the day, it wasn't the Raptors who played a great game, rather the Knicks who played a poor one. Hopefully the few days off will give the team some time to rest and regroup, and perhaps Novak and James White can bring back a couple of trophies with them to the Big Apple.
Former Knick Landry Fields grabbed 6 rebounds in the first quarter alone in his team's 92-88 victory, and he went on to finish with 4 points and 10 rebounds in his return to MSG.