Extra Painful

NEW YORK — The New York Knicks were happy to finally squash their season-long, 10-game losing streak on Friday night in Boston.

Ending their home skid will take longer, following yet another close loss.

Battling the NBA’s Eastern Conference leaders past regulation, the Knicks (5-21) succumbed in overtime, 95-90, to the Toronto Raptors (18-6), at Madison Square Garden on Sunday night.

Leading all scorers with 34 points, while adding a team-high nine rebounds, star forward Carmelo Anthony scored 15 straight second-half New York points and recorded 22 of his team’s final 30 points over the last 1½ quarters of regulation.

But after sending the game to extra time on a driving layup with 28.7 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Anthony missed all three of his shots during an overtime session in which the Knicks missed seven of their eight field goal attempts.

“I thought our defense down the stretch was solid,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “It was one of those nights, you find a way to grind it out… one of those games where if you are serious about winning, you find a way to get it done, and our guys did it.”

On holding Anthony (who shot 11-for-24) in check late, Casey added, “Even though Carmelo got 34, I thought he worked for every bit of it, and that’s what you’ve got to have… [with] a great scorer like that. Make [him] work for it.”

The loss was New York’s fifth straight at home, dropping the Knicks’ Garden record to 3-10, the same mark they have when securing at least as many rebounds as their opponents (as they did against the Raptors, who were outrebounded by New York, 43-42).

Toronto, which was paced by starters Terrence Ross (22 points) and Kyle Lowry (21 points, game-high 11 assists) moved slightly above .500 (5-4) since a blistering 13-2 start.

New York, meanwhile, has lost two-thirds of its games by seven points or less, including both of its overtime contests this season.

Although the Raptors shot 57.9 percent (11-for-19) compared to the Knicks’ 38.9 percent (7-for-18) from the floor in the opening quarter, New York had a rare, huge edge at the free throw line, to stay tied, at 27-all, as the period expired.

Entering the night with a league-low 17.3 free throw attempts per game, the Knicks nearly matched that amount in the initial quarter, taking the first 15 foul shots before Toronto attempted the final two of the period.

Tying a season high with 28 free throw attempts for the game, New York made a season high 23 foul shots.

Making just his fifth start in 26 games this season, guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (18 points, six rebounds) made all five of his first-quarter free throws while scoring nine of the Knicks’ first 13 points, before an Anthony 3-pointer capped a 13-6 run that gave New York a 20-15 lead.

However, reserve guard Lou Williams (15 points) scored all of his five first-period points during a personal 5-2 spurt that closed the quarter.

Consecutive 19-foot jumpers by starting point guard Jose Calderon (13 points, five assists, five rebounds) and a 17-footer by Anthony finished a 6-2 run that put the Knicks up, 38-34, before a 3-pointer and thunderous fast break dunk by Ross, followed by a long trey from Williams, ended a 11-6 stretch that moved Toronto ahead, 45-44, with 2.7 seconds left in the first half.

Starting forward Quincy Acy (two points, three assists) then fired a long inbounds pass nearly the full length of the court over a leaping pile of players from both teams, to Calderon, who beat the first half buzzer with a layup, to give New York a 46-45 edge.

Assists by Calderon, on an Acy jumper and an Anthony 3-pointer, helped the Knicks to five straight points and a 59-55 lead, with 5:12 left in the third quarter. But Ross scored the next five points on a jumper and 3-pointer before starting forward Amir Johnson (six points, nine rebounds) threw down an alley-oop dunk off of a half-court assist from Lowry, to give Toronto a 62-59 lead.

Another trey by Anthony tied the game, but the Raptors responded with their second third-quarter run of seven straight points, to grab a 69-62 advantage, before they taking a 72-67 lead entering the fourth quarter.

After scoring the Knicks’ final 11 points of the third period, Anthony added another four points to start the fourth quarter, before reserve point guard Shane Larkin scored his only points on a right-wing 3-pointer (with Anthony on the bench), to tie the game, at 74-apiece, with 9:21 remaining in the period.

Williams and reserve guard Pablo Prigioni (eight points) traded 3-pointers before reserve forward Patrick Patterson (13 points) made one himself, to inch Toronto ahead, 80-77, with 6:50 left in the stanza.

Four straight free throws by Lowry extended the margin to 84-79, but a dunk by starting center Amar’e Stoudemire (10 points, eight rebounds) and a 3-pointer by Anthony tied the game, at 84-each, with 2:54 to play in the quarter.

A floating jumper by Ross 16 seconds later put the Raptors back up by two, but following a Stoudemire turnover, a miss by Calderon and two more by Anthony, a replay review gave New York possession with 36 seconds left in the quarter.

Taking an inbounds pass on the right wing, Anthony drove aggressively to the hoop for a game-tying layup, which led to a Toronto time out.

Williams missed a 3-pointer and Lowry came up short on a contested, driving, six-foot layup attempt with 0.6 seconds left in regulation.

A Patterson 3-pointer 24 seconds into overtime, though, put the visitors ahead for good, as the Raptors made four of their first five shots in extra time to open a 95-88 lead on a Johnson layup with 1:26 remaining, before the Knicks made their only field goal of overtime, on a Hardaway Jr. layup with 5.2 seconds left.

Calderon, who made a name for himself in the league while running Toronto’s offense for more than seven years, before coming to New York via an offseason trade involving the Dallas Mavericks, said of the Raptors, “I think they stepped up their defensive scheme. With more pressure, we couldn’t run the plays we wanted to. We didn’t make open shots [late]. We played the best team in the East and we were right there. It is disappointing.”

Tied with the Philadelphia 76ers (2-21) for the most losses in the NBA, the Knicks will seek their first home win since beating the 76ers on November 22, when New York hosts Dallas on Tuesday night. The Mavericks handed the Knicks their other overtime loss this season, 109-102, in Dallas, on November 26, in the second game of New York’s most recent losing streak.

About the Author

Jon Wagner

Jon has been a credentialed writer with New York Sports Day since 2009, primarily covering the New York Knicks and Hofstra men's basketball. He has also occasionally covered other college basketball and New York's pro teams including the Mets, Giants, Jets, Islanders, Rangers and Cosmos (including their three most recent championship seasons). Jon is former Yahoo Sports contributor who previously covered various sports for the Queens Ledger. He's a proud alum of Hofstra University and the Connecticut School of Broadcasting (which he attended on a full scholarship). He remains convinced to this day that John Starks would have won the Knicks a championship in 1994 had Hakeem Olajuwon not blocked Starks' shot in Game 6 of the 1994 NBA Finals.

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