The Knicks entered the night as the league’s most efficient 3-point shooting team, but it all came crashing back to the hardwood in a brutal performance Thursday.
New York shot 3 for 36 from beyond the arc, as the Knicks were pulverized by the Raptors, 100-83, snapping their two-game winning streak.
It was beyond ugly. At one point, the Knicks missed 20 consecutive treys. The starting lineup was a combined 0 for 23 on 3-pointers, with RJ Barrett (0 for 8) and Reggie Bullock (0 for 9) as the biggest culprits. Not even NBA Finals John Starks would have the audacity. The Raptors (1-3) ran away in the fourth quarter for the emphatic win, beating the Knicks for the 17th time in their last 18 head-to-heads.
Fred VanVleet led Toronto with 25 points and seven assists. For the Knicks (2-3), Barrett continued his inefficiency while shooting 4 for 19. He has missed 20 consecutive 3-pointers over three games and is shooting 34% overall for the season.
It was a pandemic special with the game in Florida. With travel to and from Canada restricted, the Raptors have moved to the arena of the Tampa Bay Lightning, benefitting from the better weather and the state’s tax breaks.
At least until the All-Star break, it’s the Canada of the South.
“When you come in the ushers, everyone, is saying, “Welcome to Toronto,’ ” Tom Thibodeau said. “There’s a little humor added to it which makes it a little bit better. I’m sure for them it’s hard. It’s a team that gets great support as most NBA teams do in their hometown. Them being away from home, I’m sure they would prefer to be in Toronto.”
The circumstances allowed Kevin Knox, a Tampa Bay native, to play in front of his parents for perhaps the only time this season. Up to 3,800 fans were allowed in the arena because Florida is lax with its COVID-19 restrictions.
“My parents are coming to the game,’’ said Knox, who scored 16 points in 31 minutes. “I probably won’t see them because of COVID. But it’s probably the only game they’ll be able to watch me play this season.’’
The Raptors were playing without All-Star Pascal Siakam, who sat for “disciplinary reasons” after he fouled out in the previous game and left the court with 25 seconds remaining.
The injuries are piling up among the Knicks guards and it’s hard to keep track of the timelines. Immanuel Quickley (hip pointer) and Alec Burks (sprained ankle) are the closest to returning. Frank Ntilikina’s injury sounds the most severe — a sprained knee — but he’s officially listed as day-to-day. Dennis Smith Jr. suffered a quad contusion in preseason, tried to play on it in the season opener, missed the next three games and is “still out for a while,” Thibodeau said.
The guard was rehabbing in New York and flew to join the Knicks in Tampa Bay on Thursday, according to Thibodeau, who added, “the contusion is pretty deep.”
“The medical people thought it would be better to keep him back for a day or two,” Thibodeau said. “He had some soreness they felt could be better handled there. And we knew it was a short-term thing. So he’s en route now and he’ll join us shortly. But he’ll still be out for a while.”
Austin Rivers was activated for his Knicks debut after straining his groin before training camp. He served as the backup point guard and scored seven points in 21 minutes.