Rapid Reaction: Knicks 99, Raptors 94
March, 22, 2013
By Jared Zwerling | ESPNNewYork.com
WHAT IT MEANS: Led by Carmelo Anthony's game-high 37 points (14-for-31 from the field), the Knicks (41-26) clinched their third straight playoff berth with a 99-94 win in Toronto.
Kenyon Martin's inside game (19 points and 11 rebounds, 9-for-10 shooting), J.R. Smith's jump shots (14 points, 5-for-10) and the Knicks' 3-point shooting (10-for-22) helped secure the victory.
Overall, the Knicks shot 53.5 percent from the field -- their fourth-highest accuracy in a game this season. While the Raptors finished at 46.8 percent, they scored 10 more points in the paint than the Knicks (40 to 30), a clear sign the Knicks need Tyson Chandler (neck strain) back.
MELO-MAN: In the first half, Anthony shot 5-for-15 and had four turnovers (seven for the game). But he turned things around in the third quarter, scoring 11 points, including three turnaround jumpers. One of them came as the period buzzer sounded. With Raptors sixth man Alan Anderson going off in the quarter -- for 20 of his 35 points -- Melo's resurgence after halftime helped out big time.
DIFFERENCE MAKER: Martin. Once Chandler returns, Mike Woodson will have to take a hard look at starting Martin alongside the center to form a dynamic defensive frontline. On Friday night, Martin had another strong performance on both ends of the floor in his fifth straight start.
Early in the first quarter, after blocking Jonas Valanciunas' shot, Martin pick and popped with Iman Shumpert to square up for a baseline corner jump shot, then followed up a Raymond Felton missed layup with a putback dunk. Later in the second quarter, Martin stole a pass and took it in himself for a fast-break dunk.
Right after halftime, Martin hit a jump shot and then converted another putback dunk off a Felton missed layup. He was also aggressive on the boards. His play on both ends helped the Knicks build a 57-47 lead about midway through the third quarter. Even when the Raptors went on a run to cut a 15-point deficit to four, Martin had a putback layup late in the period to keep his team ahead, 75-69. Big play after big play -- and timely, too -- defined his outing, which also included connecting with Felton in pick-and-rolls.
SMALL (AND DEFENSIVE) BALL: For most of the second half, Woodson elected not to play Steve Novak and Chris Copeland, who only combined for 11 minutes. With the emphasis on winning Friday to lock up that important playoff berth, the coach likely wanted to minimize any defensive lapses. In addition, with Felton, Smith and Jason Kidd along the perimeter, the ball was moving much better.
IT'S FREE! The Knicks finished with their second-worst percentage in a game this season from the foul line (13-for-24; 54.2 percent).
WHAT'S NEXT: A carbon copy on Saturday night in New York. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m. The Raptors could be short-handed without Rudy Gay, who left Friday's game in the second quarter with a jammed back.
You can follow Jared Zwerling on Twitter.
Final Philadelphia 110 New York 123 Final Toronto 97 Brooklyn 101
7:00 PM ET Butler Seton Hall 7:00 PM ET South Florida Rutgers 7:00 PM ET Fordham George Mason
8:00 PM ET NY Rangers Winnipeg 7:00 PM ET San Jose NY Islanders 7:30 PM ET New Jersey Florida