Toronto Raptors

Toronto Raptors come up short against New York Knicks in Kyle Lowry's return from injury

The Toronto Raptors made a run, but it wasn't enough.

Despite strong performances from Gary Trent Jr. and Chris Boucher, the Raptors fell to the New York Knicks on Sunday, losing by a final score of 102-96.

Trent scored a team-high 23 points for the Raptors while Boucher posted a 17-point, 14-rebound double-double. The Knicks were led by Julius Randle (26 points) and RJ Barrett (19 points).

For more on the game, some takeaways...

1. Kyle Lowry returns

Fred VanVleet (left hip strain) and OG Anunoby (rest) missed this one, but Lowry returned after missing six straight games with a right foot infection.

Other than committing five turnovers, Lowry showed no signs of rust. He was Toronto's second-leading scorer in the game with 19 points. He also grabbed seven rebounds, dished out six assists and came up with three steals. He carried the Raptors for a large portion of this game.

2. Khem Birch gets on the board

In addition to Lowry returning, Birch made his Raptors debut against the Knicks.

Birch's first basket came out of a pick-and-roll with Lowry near the end of the second quarter. He followed it up with a putback off of a miss from Pascal Siakam a few minutes later.

Birch ended up playing 17 minutes, finishing with four points and five rebounds.

3. A frigid first half

Not much went Toronto's way in the first half.

After scoring a franchise-record 87 points in the first half of their win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday, the Raptors were limited to 42 points in the first half against the Knicks on Sunday.

Lowry was the only player on the Raptors who was able to find a groove. He had 14 points on 3-for-7 shooting from the field through two quarters of play. Everyone else on the Raptors combined for 28 points on 10-for-35 shooting from the field.

Siakam struggled the most. He started the game ice cold, missing his first seven field goal attempts. It wasn't until the 5:18 mark in the second quarter that he scored his first points, by which point the Raptors were already down double figures.

4. A turn of events

The third quarter was a different story.

Following a tough first half, Siakam came alive in the third quarter, scoring nine points on 3-for-5 shooting from the field. Boucher added nine points, six rebounds and three blocks while Trent led the way with 14 points in the frame.

Trent was almost perfect, shooting 5-for-6 from the field and 2-for-3 from 3-point range.

Behind Siakam, Boucher and Trent, the Raptors outscored the Knicks 34-22 in the third quarter to make it a one-possession game going into the fourth.

5. Chris Boucher strikes again

One of Boucher's blocks in the third quarter? A 3-point attempt by Alec Burks.

Boucher is now up to 23 blocked 3-pointers on the season, extending his lead over Matisse Thybulle (13) for most in the NBA.

6. The big plays

The Raptors started the fourth quarter strong behind Malachi Flynn, who rattled out six quick points to help the Raptors take the lead.

Unfortunately for the Raptors, the Knicks were the ones who made the big plays when it mattered most.

First, Burks extended New York's lead to five points with 3:24 to go with a much-needed 3-pointer.

He followed that up with a slick pass to Randle for a dunk that put the Knicks up by four with 2:04 to go.

Barrett then hit the biggest shot of the game, draining a corner 3-pointer with 34.9 seconds remaining to put the Knicks back up by four.

The Raptors still had a chance, but Siakam was whistled for a double dribble following a steal from Lowry with 11.8 seconds left that basically sealed the deal.

Siakam ended the game with 16 points (5-18 FG), seven assists, five turnovers and two blocks. He didn't register a single rebound for only the eighth time in his career and fouled out in 35 minutes of play. It was a struggle for him for most of the game.

7. RJ Barrett is ballin right now

Barrett finished with 19 points on 7-for-12 shooting from the field and 3-for-6 from 3-point range.

He's in quite the stretch right now.

8. The standings

The Raptors fall to 12 games below .500 with a 21-33 record ... and they're still in the mix for the play-in tournament.

With the Chicago Bulls losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, the Raptors are still only two games out of the 10th seed.

They're running out of time to make a run - Toronto has only 18 games left - but it's still crazy to think that the Raptors are still in position to make a playoff push given how they've played lately.

9. What's next

The Raptors return to Tampa for a matchup with the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday.

The Hawks have been one of the hottest teams in the league lately, having won seven of their last 10 games to move up into fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

It should be a good one. Catch you then.

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