It looked better at least in first 3 minutes. Better D and buckets from Bargs, Demar and Calderon and an 8-4 lead. Knicks fought back and tied it up at 8. It was shaping up as a close battle as it was 13-12 Knicks. The good news was at least early the 3's were not falling for the Knicks. Gallinari took it right at Ed Davis with a slam and Calderon on the other end nails the jumper even up at 16. Both teams were not exactly taking care of the basketball leading to a pace that both teams like in going up and down. Knicks are better at it though. Calderon nails a 3 ball and Raps had a 4 point lead with under 5 to play with the score 20-16. Knicks answer with a Gallinari 3. This was staying tight tied at 22. Kleiza misses 2 free throws then fouls on the other end. He has not been good and that is an understatement. I would rather see Wright getting some of his time personally. Did he hear me typing? Nails a 3 ball on a nice set from Bayless. It would spark a 9-0 run to give the Raptors a 32-26 lead. Raps get that start we talked about off the top with a 32-28 lead after 1.
Raps get an easy 2 from Sonny Weems to start the 2nd Quarter. That would get Raps off on the right foot and they would build a 37-28 lead to start the 2nd in style. From there it was up and down and teams trading buckets to make it 41-32. Bayless had some assists coming off the pine. A Bargnani basket would make the lead 11 and the Knicks needed to take a time out and figure some things out. Bargs already has 14 and was off to a hot start and was demanding the ball as well nice to see. Douglas open 3 would cut the lead to 8 but the Raps responded with back to back buckets and made the lead a dozen the largest of the night to that point. Even without Amir the Raps were playing Kleiza at the 4 and that was working well. Why no Amir...early fouls not a new story there.
But the Knicks were making a push as Chandler nailed a 3 and then Felton another 3 and a 12 point lead was down to a 3 point lead 53-50. At this point Jay Triano calls a time out and honestly what is he going to say that hasn't been said. Raps can't allow teams like the Knicks to get open looks from 3. Knicks got it to with in 1 point and Bargs nails the clutch 3 ball to get lead back to 4. But the Knicks came storming back and Landry Fields had a serious score to tie it at 56. Jose complaining about a call gets teched up or rather the lack of a call. Tech is made and 12 point lead is officially gone 57-56. A late Amare bucket would give Knicks a 59-57 halftime lead.
Apparently the Raptors lead was up to 13 at one point. Perhaps I looked down....but 12 or 13 no matter that lead was history. Bargs gets a score right out of the gate to tie it at 59. Good news for Raps as their have been times we have seen Bargs go off in first half only to disappear in the 2nd half. He is the Magician and all but not the way we want him to be if that happens. Demar had a sick dunk but it disappeared thanks to an Amir Johnson offensive foul his 3rd. Bargnani would step up and give the Raps a 64-63 soon after.
Raps D was still a concern as Chandler had a nice baseline slam to give the Knicks the lead 68-66. Raptors were 3 of 13 in quarter and another miss and Knicks score....Time to talk it over. Time out Raptors trailing 70-66 with 6:20 to play in the 3rd. Bargs drops a dime to DeRozan that was his 5th. Then Bargs scores to giver him 26 and tie the game at 70. Raptors were doing a good job getting to the line 21 times so far and with 4:20 left in quarter 77-74. Demar DeRozan was starting to get it rolling showing people just what he is capable of doing. He had 17 and the Raps had a 81-78 lead. Bargnani would check out and an odd line up of Bayless, Barbosa, DeRozan and Davis and Kleiza was on the floor. Bayless a nice drive and score and 1 would get the lead back for the Raptors after they had given it away. Rookie mistake by Ed Davis with a silly foul on Amare. It ends up all even at 84 heading to the 4th.
Win or lose I can live with what we have seen tonight some growing and learning both good and bad for a number of individuals. A Fields 3 to start the 4th was not good. Bargs with a 2 point answer and Bargs has been consistent tonight. At least on this night Bargnani was playing like a franchise player. He has 30 and has kept the Raptors in this game. Sonny Weems was back in and I am pretty confident it was not to take a 3 which he missed and the Raptors were trailing 91-89. But the Bargnani show continues on as he scores and has a season high 32. But Amare answers to make it 96-93 Knicks with 6:40ish to play.
Bad offensive possession and Bargs fell down trying to get back on D and it would lead to another Amare score on the break. Time out and Raptors needed it as they were on the ropes stuck 5 as Jack Armstrong would say. Weems struggles continue as Amare took care of him but got back and got on the glass and leads to the Bargnani basket plus a foul which he makes and he has a new career high of 35 and hopefully counting. But Amare would answer again and it was 100-96 Knicks. Fields would score and have his own and 1 that he missed but Amare got the board and Knicks could not cash in. Weems would draw contact as Demar dropped it off trying to get his buddy going. Makes the free throws and it is 102-98 Knicks. Bargs was on the bench for a quick or not so quick rest..meantime Raps were down just 2 with score 104-102 closing in on 2 minutes to play.
Demar DeRozan would draw the 5th foul on Amare and head to the line with a chance to tie it up with 2:09 to play. Demar makes both and is 7-8 at the line and were tied at 104. More Amare though and he scores again. Bargs would draw contact at the other end and he split a pair at the line. Just 1:30 to go and Raps can't stop Amare he scores again and has 16 in the Quarter. Raps go to Bargs and he scores. But Amare answers on the other end this was a 2 man battle....Raptors trailing 110-107. Raps get nailed with a costly 5 second cal but Knicks can't make them pay. Bargs a 3 for the TIE NAILS IT!!!!. But Raymond Felton answers and gets a kind roll with just 2.7 left gets the answer 3. Bargs from VERY DEEP....NO!!! But still what a night for Brags with 41 points and 7 boards. In the end he needed 44 for the Raptors to extend this game but couldn't do it. Knicks win 113-110.
That being said this was by a long way the best game of Andrea Bargnani's career. At least on this night he was every bit "The Franchise" player that Amare was for the Knicks. A tough tough way to lose but the Raptors brought all they had and fell up short tonight. I can live with that as I think all Raptor fans can. Knicks have won 12 of 13 and 6 in a row. The Knicks have turned the corner and are one of hottest teams in the NBA.