As the Knicks were flushing out an 18-point lead in the second half, the game was delayed 14 minutes due to the ceiling waterfall on the field.
The Raptors took a lead soon after play resumed, but RJ Barrett’s 3-point with 34.3 seconds left and Julius Randle’s late insurance free throws helped secure a critical victory of 102-96 for Tom Thibodeau’s team.
The Knicks’ first eighth-seeded victory in 10 games against the Raptors since November 2017 was significant for them in the Eastern Conference standings, increasing their cushion against 11th-ranked Toronto to six games with 18 left to play. The top six teams from each conference automatically qualify for the playoffs, with teams seven to 10 subject to play-in scenarios.
Randle scored 26 points, a team-high, and Barrett scored 19 for the Knicks (27-27), who have won back-to-back games after losing five of their previous six. They will play again on Monday at home against the Lakers, who go without injured stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Nerlens Noel contributed nine points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Knicks, while Gary Trent Jr. scored 23 points and Kyle Lowry added 19 for the Raptors (21-33).
The Knicks had built a 68-50 lead early in the third quarter, but the Raptors hit back with a 37-15 wave to take an 87-83 advantage over Rodney Hood’s 3-pointers seven minutes from time to time. fourth.
The Knicks scored the next nine points to regain the lead, including a practice from Barrett and a 3-point pointer by Alec Burks for a 92-87 lead with 3:24 remaining. Barrett’s right corner 3 in the last minute extended a cushion by a point to four, and after Pascal Siakam was called in to travel with a chance to tie the game, Randle sank four consecutive free throws in the 10 last seconds to seal the victory.
The Raptors were without Fred VanVleet (hip) and OG Anunoby (rest), but they had scored 135 points without them – and with Lowry and Siakam also sidelined – in Saturday’s win over Cleveland.
“They’ve had a number of injuries, but it’s a deep and talented team. They accumulated 87 points in the first half of their match [Friday] night, and they had a number of their players for that particular game. So you have to be ready for them, ”said Thibodeau. “They can turn you over and they end up in the open ground and they are very dangerous.”
The Knicks’ suffocating defense limited the Raptors to just 13 for 42 (29.3%) in the first half, starting with Bullock intercepting a Siakam pass on Toronto’s first possession for a dunk in breakaway. The Knicks slammed 10 of 12 3-point attempts in the first quarter, but Randle’s 3-point conversion in the dying seconds gave them a 27-16 advantage.
Derrick Rose (11 points) was hacked on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all three fouls for a 14-point cushion early in the second. Randle, who finished with 18 points in the half, sank two free throws with 13.4 seconds left as the Knicks led 56-42 in intermission.
Barrett and Reggie Bullock (10 points) connected downtown early in the third to extend the Knicks’ advantage to 18. Siakim and Trent combined for 14 in a 16-4 run to Toronto to bring the lead to six, 72-66, with five minutes remaining in the quarter.
The game was delayed 14 minutes from 3:58 of the third quarter, with the Knicks leading by 10, due to what the team called “a little raindrop” coming from the ceiling. After the delay, the Raptors moved closer to less than two points, 78-76, at the end of the quarter on 3 points of Trent and Chris Boucher.