A sold out crowd will be new for the Raptors they have not been packing them in during the pre-season. Tonight in Montreal they take on the Knicks in which is becoming an annual event? Andrea Bargnani is expected to play with his bruised calf the question will be if he plays well? Kyle Lowry will play in his second game and will see how he does against some stronger competition. Landry Fields may not know everyone but is first look at his now former team. Pretty sure Spike Lee never made the trip to Montreal but who knows.
Andrea hit his opening shot and blocked a shot leading to a break with Lowry hooking up Fields and the Raptors lead early 4-2. Raptors were all kinds of fired up shaking off their slow start blues. Jonas took it at Amare and the DeRozan flies in for a score to make it 8-4. This was first sign of something that was a concern for Jonas to quick fouls and early seat with Raptors leading 10-8. Raymond Felton would give the Knicks the lead briefly 11-10. Amir Johnson was reason why quickly replying with score on the offensive glass. DeMar DeRozan showing us some post-up styles with a bucket to make it 14-13 Raptors.
Mello airballed a three and on the next offensive possession Amir Johnson scores on the hook. Knicks got on a bit of a roll and Novak in the corner hit a three to give them a 23-18 advantage with just a little under 3 to play in the quarter. Jason Kidd nailed a three and this was a reverse of fortune for the Raptors. In the opening pre-season games first unit has started slow and second unit has picked it up. Reverse tonight. Linas Klezia gets a score to make it 26-20 after one in Montreal.
Terrence Ross who missed the last game is on the floor to start the second quarter. Jonas was back on the floor as well and is kind to old people as he tapped it back into the net, on defense crediting Kurt Thomas with the basket. Raptors were getting torched with a mix of starters and reserves on the floor. Down 35-22 Dwane Casey decided to call an end to this hopefully with a timeout.
Casey throws Calderon on the floor with Lowry and Bargnani is back in. Alan Anderson and Amir Johnson make the rest of this curious 5. Lowry hit’s a three pointer the first for the Raptors on the night and gets them back to within 10 with score 35-25 Knicks. Fields checks in as the experiment worked well with a little 5-0 push to make this an 8 point contest. The early inspired Bargnani has faded into the Montreal night like smoked meat. Raptors had stopped the bleeding to a degree. Some nice hustle leads to a break and Lowry hooks up Bargnani for the easy score. DeMar DeRozan back in the game gets hook up from fields and Raptors were in midst of a 7-0 run and back to within shooting distance down 38-34. Raptors kept the run going with a three to push it to 11-0. Knicks got to the line but missed both. Finally a Chandler slam with some punch would end this run. Raptors got their first lead since 13-12 thanks to Amir Johnson making it 42-41. The Knicks would re-take the lead and get one last chance to add to it which they did. But Lowry had enough time left to make a buzzer beater three make it 46-46 all even after a half in Montreal.
Demar DeRozan breaks the tie with a rare three from him. Raptors took control in the early going jumping out to a 53-48 advantage in the first two minutes. Jonas picks up foul number three early in the third quarter. DeRozan has the ball slapped away but the Knicks can’t turn it into points. Mello would get the Knicks back to within one. Bargnani like in the first half off to a fast start with his second basket of the half and Raptors lead 55-52. The Knicks would get this game back to even at 56 with an Anthony drive and score.
Another DeRozan fumble this one recovered by Johnson and he scored two for the good guys. Alan Anderson would score and the Raptors were back in front with a four point lead. Apparently Kurt Thomas was not happy enough with a free two points as he picked up a technical foul with 2:38 to go in the third quarter. Calderon made the technically foul shot to give the Raptors a 64-59 lead. John Lucas III makes the long two to extend out the Raptors lead. As has been his mark with the Raptors Lucas went on to score 6 points in a short time span. Anthony was trying to keep the Knicks in the game on his own. Everything the Knicks were doing was going into his black hole with mixed results. The Raptors were more than happy with that and had a 76-66 lead heading to the fourth in Montreal.
The Carmelo plan was abandoned for Amare plan and that pays early dividends with slam to start the fourth. Raptors were looking to hang on with 10 minutes to go and a Jose three would make it 82-72 Raptors. A steal and Jose Calderon with a lay-up and Knicks need a time out down a dozen to the Raptors. Clearly that Atlantic Division Title might not be as close as the Knicks think it is. John Lucas is starting to remind me of Vinnie Johnson who earned the nickname “The Microwave” for his instant offense. Lucas hit a very deep three to give the Raptors an eleven point lead. Lucas would get taken out and I am not sure why? Knicks would close the gap to 87-80. Jonas would pick up his fifth foul on what would be classed as a learning experience for him tonight. Raptors were hanging on to the lead though 89-80. With 5:49 to play.
Mello made two at the line than a turnover but the Knicks fail to cash in or they could have cut the lead down to five. Jonas had one foul and was living on borrowed time but he was able to get a bucket after missing a chippy putback seconds earlier. He then travels it was an up and down night for Jonas.
Fields and DeRozan are becoming quite the combination as Fields hooks up DeRozan for the jam and the Raptors lead 95-82. Raptors were running away from the Knicks and looking like the team that was suppose to be competing to win the Atlantic Division. It was 98-84 Raptors with 2:41 to play and it is almost time to bust out some French. Sortez le Salami et Formage, Raptors Win Raptors Win. I don’t think you need a translator.
Raptors kind of let the foot off the gas pedal but Andrea Bargnani made a clutch bank shot three to make it 101-88 to end any doubt. It lead to a three point barrage to end the game with Raptors closing strong taking this one 107-88. I would say to remember the Blue Jays when I say this but the Raptors are 4-1 in the Pre-season.
This was a step up in competition and the Raptors responded. Easily the best game of the pre-season for Andrea Bargnani who finished with 20 points, 7 rebounds (Not a Typo) and 2 blocks. (Also Not a Typo) Lots of good things in this game. A lot to like about these new look Raptors.