The Knicks hardly ever play the Raptors well, and unfortunately for them, Monday night's matchup didn't prove to be any different.
In relation to the Knicks, who are still trying to find their identity as a team, Toronto is a very physical group who likes to apply constant pressure in order to pester and fluster opposing offensive players. They work hard to shake guys out of their respective rhythms. Aside from Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks' players aren't able to display resistance, and absorb and/or respond to such contact well at all. They looked weak throughout.
A behavior the Raptors seem to display again and again against the Knicks is the ability to create false hope. While the Knicks work hard and overexert themselves physically, Toronto simply bides their time before going on a full offensive onslaught. The game remains close while the Knicks believe they still have a chance, but once Toronto turns it up a notch, all hope is lost. Such a similar fate was decided as the Raptors outscored the home team 60-40 between the second and third quarters. New York never stood a chance.
Here's a look at some other observations from the loss:
- Robin Lopez had another monster game with 21 points and 13 rebounds. As the Knicks struggled to find an offensive rhythm, the big man has been a rare bright spot as of late. He's been much more assertive, intelligent, and savvy with that impressive hook shot around the rim. The Knicks have been featuring him as a main offensive option early in games. One has to wonder if such encouragement to get more involved is a wrinkle of Kurt Rambis' offense.
- As Lopez becomes more prevalent (as positive as that may be), Kristaps Porzingis seems to struggle a bit alongside him. That same confidence the rookie displayed earlier in the season hasn't been there when Lopez heats up. This may be a mere coincidence, but it's worth noting that Porzingis' own offense only came in bunches late in the contest when Lopez sat out. The two need to learn how to co-exist on offense.
- The Knicks' eventual demise was sparked by a bevy of missed free-throws. Even as they attempted to remain close, eight missed free-throws (including four by Anthony) proved to be demoralizing as the team attempted to go on somewhat of a run to narrow the gap.
- Monday's blowout loss did give way to the opportunity for Jimmer Fredette to make his Knicks debut. Arriving to roaring cheers from the crowd (who begged for his appearance all game long), the guard knocked down his first dagger from deep, but subsequently committed a turnover and a poor foul in the game's final two minutes.