The New York Knicks remain red hot as they earned a 120-103 win over the Toronto Raptors to move to 34-27 on the season.
New York, which has now won nine in a row, was led by 31 points from Julius Randle, while RJ Barrett added 25 points on tidy 8-for-16 shooting from the field. The Raptors, who fall to 25-35 on the year, were led by the trio of OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet, who combined to score 80 points in the game.
For more on how it all went down, here are some takeaways from the buzzer.
The streak is over
Toronto's, that is, as the Raptors' win streak comes to an end at four.
The Knicks, on the other hand, have now won nine in a row, the franchise's second-longest streak in the last 25 seasons. While this streak certainly doesn't guarantee a deep playoff run for this New York team, it maintains its hold on the East's No. 4 seed.
NINE STRAIGHT KNICKS WINS! pic.twitter.com/TT7KjXH6j8- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 24, 2021
Home court advantage could go a long way for the Knicks this postseason.
The path to the Play-In
For Toronto, the loss complicates the team's prospect of attaining the final spot in the Eastern Conference Play-In Tournament.
The Raptors, who entered the day in 12th place, remain in that spot but are now a half-game behind the 11th-place Chicago Bulls and a game-and-a-half behind the 10th-place Washington Wizards, who have won seven games in a row to overtake the final Play-In spot.
Washington is idle Saturday but Chicago is in Miami later in the evening for the first of two meetings with the Heat in three days. There's still plenty left to be decided.
Randle for Most Improved
While chants of "MVP" ring throughout the Madison Square Garden each time Randle steps to the free throw line, it's a different piece of hardware he'll likely be hoisting following the 2020-21 NBA season.
Randle continues to display his growth as a player, knocking down three triples in the opening frame en route to scoring 13 first-quarter points. He didn't stop in the first, either, as he finished with 31 points and 10 rebounds, shooting 10-for-17 from the field and 5-for-7 from 3-point range.
13 PTS, 3 triples for Julius Randle in the 1st quarter on ESPN!@Raptors 26@nyknicks 30 pic.twitter.com/b9YyCYD0WD- NBA (@NBA) April 24, 2021
It is Randle's seventh game with 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds this season and the eighth time this season that he's knocked down five or more triples. Prior to this season, he had just one such game.
OG's improving, too
As we continue to document Anunoby's growth, he continues to display it in real-time.
Saturday was yet another example.
It was a career shooting performance for the 23-year-old, who tied a career-high with six triples as he finished with 27 points while shooting 9-for-16 (56.3 percent) from the field and 6-for-11 (54.5 percent) from beyond the arc.
Anunoby added five rebounds, three assists and two steals, to boot.
Barrett's sophomore leap
One of Canada's many rising stars, Barrett continues to take leaps in his second NBA season.
In 38 minutes of action, the 20-year-old finished with 25 points (on 8-for-16 shooting), a game-high 12 boards and four assists in the win over his hometown team. Barrett continues to display growth as a shooter, going 3-for-7 from distance and going 6-for-7 from the charity stripe.
His 3-point dagger got the Madison Square Garden crowd fired up.
RJ BARRETT. DAGGER. pic.twitter.com/p1JS7JtPZ5- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 24, 2021
He's built for it.
"Playing in The Garden, having the fans behind us like this. It's tough for teams to play here."- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 24, 2021
Toronto's Big 3
Anunoby and VanVleet each scored 27 and Siakam scored 26.
By that math, the trio scored 80 of the Raptors' 103 points on the night. That's … not much from the remainder of the team.
Outside of that trio, Toronto was 9-for-28 from the field, with Khem Birch as the next-leading scorer with eight points on 4-for-5 shooting. It was a tough scoring night for Kyle Lowry, who shot 1-for-10 from the field and 0-for-8 from deep to score four points. In Lowry fashion, he still made his presence felt with nine assists, seven rebounds and, of course, a drawn charge.
It's still a small sample size, but Gary Trent Jr.'s second-unit woes continued as he scored just four points on 2-for-8 shooting and was a minus-33 in the box score. As a whole, the Knicks' second unit outscored the Raptors' bench 43-11.
The positive is that the Anunoby-Siakam-VanVleet trio is the core for the future but the major negative is what the Raptors need as a whole unit outside of them.
Things get no easier for the Knicks, who host the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. The Raptors return to Tampa where they will face the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday, April 26 at 7:30 p.m. We've got you covered with all things leading up to that one.
See you then.
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