By Charlie Widdoes (Twitter)
KNICKS 120, RAPTORS 123 | AIR CANADA CENTRE
How it happened:
With only two more preseason games remaining after tonight, regular season intensity has begun to creep in. As the time for evaluation gives way to the last few exhibition contests, the stakes are raised for both roster hopefuls and those already entrenched in the rotation.
Along the way, the Knicks and Raptors served up an thrilling, double overtime affair that both entertained and enlightened as Coach Mike Woodson and his staff prepare for the games that count. Toronto pulled out the 123-120 win, coming up with the big shots down the stretch that made the difference.
Tim Hardaway Jr. had a chance to win it for New York in regulation, but his off-the-dribble three from the right wing was just wide, opening the door for Terrence Ross (27 points, including 6-of-13 from three) and the Raptors to steal one at home.
Woodson called it "the final full game for the guys trying to earn a roster spot," and fortunately, he likely saw plenty in the first 48 minutes to know what he has as his team heads to Green Bay for Wednesday's penultimate regular season tune up.
Behind another stellar effort from guard Toure' Murry, the Knicks took a 12-point lead into halftime. The offense was clicking (60 points on 49 percent shooting), and many of the team's principals showed positive signs.
Tyson Chandler showcased the expanded offensive game he's worked so hard on all offseason, knocking down a pair of 18-foot jumpers on his way to 15 points; Andrea Bargnani continued to play with aggression (13 points and seven more trips to the free throw line); Carmelo Anthony finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three emphatic blocks; Metta World Peace poured in 16 points to go with six rebounds and three assists, often acting as the veteran leader on the floor with young guys.
Seven players with double-figure points, but ultimately defensive lapses opened the window for the Raptors. "We'll watch the tape and clean those things up," said Woodson after the game.
He was referring to his young guys, mostly, but he also made sure to praise Hardaway, Murry and C.J. Leslie, who had seen limited playing time before tonight, for their effort.
Hardaway struggled from the field, but after scoring one point in the first half, he finished with 15 points on 16 shots, including four big three-pointers that kept the Knicks in the game. Leslie had five points in his first extended look of the preseason.
But for the third straight game, it was Murry who continued to impress. At halftime, he stated his goal to "show I can run a team when the starters are out." He had a team-high +12 rating in 15 first half minutes, mostly with the starters, including a turnaround halfcourt heave that will surely make the highlight shows.
His poise again stood out, and assistant coach Jim Todd noted that the coaching staff "definitely saw some progress tonight" as he continues his transition to the point guard position.
Ike Diogu also stepped up again in his quest for a roster spot, adding 10 points and seven rebounds to go with a solid defensive effort.
Knick of the Night:
Beno Udrih, the veteran point guard, was a workhorse for the visitors tonight, scoring 19 points and dropping seven dimes in 34 minutes of action.
After practicing in Toronto tomorrow, the Knicks will head to Green Bay, WI, to get a look at their opening night opponent, the Milwaukee Bucks. Both Amar'e Stoudemire and J.R. Smith could practice tomorrow and make their preseason debuts in the game if everything goes well.