Saturday, December 28, 2013

Raptors' Lowry puts on show as Knicks embarrassed again

TORONTO -- At least during Friday's loss to the Raptors at the Garden, the Knicks were competitive.

Saturday, facing the Raptors again on the road, they just crashed and burned.

Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, who was close to wearing the orange and blue earlier this month after serious trade talks between the clubs, took a torch to the Knicks, scoring 32 points, dishing out 11 assists and grabbing eight rebounds, missing a triple-double by two boards, in a 115-100 Raptors win.

Knicks coach Mike Woodson, supposedly safe after owner James Dolan's second vote of confidence, said before the home-and-home series against Toronto nobody was running away with the division and he "expects'' his team to capture it.

Well, first-place Toronto is now starting to run away with the division. The Knicks fell a fat five games behind the division leaders and a season-worst 12 games under .500, The Knicks finished 2013 at 9-21 and will pick up in 2014 in San Antonio on Thursday for the start of a Texas Triangle trip.

Injured Carmelo Anthony missed his third straight game and didn't make the journey, and the Knicks disgraced themselves north of the border.

Lowry dominated starter Beno Udrih and rookie Tour'e Murry, only playing because the Knicks are missing their top two point guards in Raymond Felton and Pablo Prigioni. In the first half, Lowry, out of Villanova, easily scooted past Murry for a layup and 14-point lead. Lowry finished the half with 14 points on 5-of-8 shooting with seven assists and six rebounds.

The Knicks managed to cut the gap to eight points with 4:03 left in the game, then Lowry supplied the daggers. Murry got frustrated after slipping to the floor, reached to grab at Lowry and tripped him up. Murry was charged with a flagrant foul. Moments later, Lowry iced the game with a 3-pointer with 3:05 left for a 106-95 lead.

As expected, Andrea Bargnani was booed loudly in his first regular-season game back in Toronto, where he spent seven years. But a foul-plagued Bargnani wasn't good enough on defense and played just 18 minutes, scoring 12 points on 5-of-11 shooting with three rebounds and four fouls. He had little impact -- just as he had in seven years with the Raptors.

The Raptors led 57-44 at halftime, as their three wing players, Lowry (14), DeMar DeRozan (10) and Terrence Ross (14) combined for 38 points in the half.

J.R. Smith had a rough shooting night, going 5-of-16 for 13 points. Amar'e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 23 points in a wasted effort.

Iman Shumpert, who was scoreless Friday, was scoreless in the first half Saturday, missing all three of his jump shots -- which have abandoned him recently. He was on the trading block until recently when Dolan told the players there would be no trades. Shumpert finished with six points.

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