Toronto Raptors vs. New York Knicks: Postgame Grades and Analysis
The Toronto Raptors scored a big victory on the road over a struggling Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks. Little about the game was pretty, but the hot shooting of Alan Anderson and John Lucas III off the bench compensated for the ejection of Kyle Lowry and Rudy Gay having a 4-of-21 shooting night.
Gay's sub-25 percent shooting was emblematic of the first quarter, in which the Raptors shot 17 percent from the floor through the first 10.5 minutes of the quarter, while the Knicks were 26 percent at that juncture.
The offense picked up as the game went on, but Gay continued to struggle and the Knicks were unable to get any of their scorers going except J.R. Smith.
Let's evaluate the individual performance of the starters from tonight and dish out some game grades.
Point Guard: Raymond Felton vs. Kyle Lowry
Kyle Lowry became furious after getting called for a foul trying to fight around a moving pick set by Amar'e Stoudemire late in the third quarter. Lowry had been having a decent game up until that point, at least shooting the ball, and had hit 3-of-8 from the floor for 12 points.
His teammates were struggling, which indicated he might have had a big night if not for his temper getting the best of him.
His matchup Raymond Felton had a poor shooting night, hitting just 3-of-9 from the floor, and he had nightmares trying to match up with John Lucas III when the gunner checked into the game. Lucas was huge off the Raptors bench (more on him later), while Felton was responsible for four of the Knicks' 10 turnovers.
Felton: C -
Shooting Guard: Jason Kidd vs. DeMar DeRozan
DeMar DeRozan wasn't feeling the jump shot tonight. After missing his first few jumpers, he decided it didn't matter. DeRozan began to attack the basket—hard. He finished 5-of-11 from the floor, with most of those field goals coming at the rim.
He also got to the line for 10 free throws, and he banged down all 10. DeRozan kept Jason Kidd from breaking free for many open looks, and Kidd missed the threes he did take, finishing 0-of-3 from the floor (all threes).
Kidd played a very ineffective game and didn't really create much of anything for himself or teammates, and was utterly defenseless against the speed of DeRozan. That's what happens when you match up one of the league's quicker 2-guards against arguably the league's slowest.
We have to give Kidd some credit, though. After all, he's still starting on a contending team at his advanced age.
Small Forward: Carmelo Anthony vs. Landry Fields
It's difficult to say whether Carmelo Anthony played small forward or power forward tonight since the Knicks started three guards with Melo and Chandler, while the Raptors started two small forwards in Rudy Gay and Landry Fields.
Moving past that irrelevant fact, Anthony had one of his worst games of the 2012-13 season, and the stellar defense of former Knick Landry Fields was the primary reason why. Rudy Gay also saw time covering Anthony and did an equally brilliant job while doing so.
Anthony shot an abysmal 5-of-24 from the floor, and looked like he was going to cry tears of joy when he finally got a three to go from the top of the key late in the fourth quarter.
Fields hit 2-of-4 from the floor for four points, but his defense more than made up for his lack of involvement in the Raptors offense. People that criticized the Raptors for overspending on a role player clearly don't understand the impact a guy can have on a game without even getting halfway to scoring in double-digits.
Small Forward (Part Two): Iman Shumpert vs. Rudy Gay
The frustration Carmelo Anthony felt with Landry Fields hounding him was paralleled by Rudy Gay's struggles for the Raptors. Iman Shumpert played great defense on Gay for the 21 minutes he played tonight.
J.R. Smith merely perpetuated Shumpert's success by laying off the cold-shooting Gay and forcing him to take more jumpers.
Gay persisted in trying to get himself going, but just couldn't manage to find the bottom of the net.
Shumpert also had 10 boards, which isn't too bad for a 6'5" combo guard playing out of position. Shumpert has drawn interest from the Phoenix Suns, who are impressed by his potential and defense and regret not having drafted him with their 14th overall selection in the 2011 draft.
Good luck with that.
Gay: C -
Center: Tyson Chandler vs. Jonas Valanciunas
Jonas Valanciunas was as close to a non-factor as a starting center could be tonight. He played just 13 minutes in the game, spending most of the night in foul trouble, and Dwayne Casey didn't seem too concerned about trying to milk any extra minutes out of the No. 5 selection from the 2011 draft.
Tyson Chandler had a solid lunch pail type of game, but that's what we've come to expect from the reigning Defensive Player of the Year. His 10 points and nine rebounds were an understated contribution.
He had back-to-back dunks in the fourth quarter that were timely and nearly got the Knicks back in the game.
Sixth Man: J.R. Smith vs. Alan Anderson
If it weren't for sixth men J.R. Smith and Alan Anderson, there's a good chance the teams tonight would have failed to reach 70 points in the game. Smith came in and ignited a struggling Knicks offense late in the first quarter, getting his team going at a time when they were shooting just 26 percent from the floor.
Smith's 26 points on 8-of-17 shooting helped make up for Melo's disgusting game, but it just wasn't enough to overcome the all-around struggles of the Knicks on this occasion.
Alan Anderson was even more brilliant than Smith. Anderson fell one point short of his career high (which he's accomplished twice this season), scoring 26 points on 10-of-16 shooting. He missed his final two attempts of the game, preventing him from topping his career high, but he was 6-of-8 from three point range as the Raptors shot 42.9 percent from behind the arc as a team.
Anderson didn't just settle for jumpers, either. He put the ball on the floor to diversify his offense and made it even more impossible for the Knicks to come up with a way to stop him.
Outside of sixth man Alan Anderson, the Raptors also got a nice performance from John Lucas III tonight, as he subbed in for the ejected Kyle Lowry. Lucas has said before he just "can't make himself into a pass-first point guard" (via Raptors broadcast), but maybe he really shouldn't even try.
There's a place in the league for hired gunners, and his play is very reminiscent of Damon Stoudamire in terms of style and substance.
Amir Johnson also came in and helped slow Tyson Chandler down at a time when Andrea Bargnani couldn't figure out where the heck Chandler was on any given play.
Bargnani played a very worthless 11 minutes, and his trade value probably couldn't be any lower on an $11 million contract. He hit his only shot of the night, but his defense was horrible as it usually is and there was really no place for him on the court.
The Knicks received a nice boost from Steve Novak in the 11 minutes he played in, as he hit three consecutive threes in his first five minutes on the court. Novak shot only one more time following that sequence (missing), but performed his usual role of three-point specialist.
Amar'e Stoudemire has declined so noticeably as a player that it's painful to watch. Andrea Bargnani, one of the worst defenders at the power forward/center spot in the league, blocked Stoudmire's layup, which may have come as a relief to STAT since he had missed an uncontested layup moments earlier.
Amar'e hit 4-of-13 from the floor, and the only reason he had five offensive rebounds was because he was following his own missed shots at point-blank range.
The Knicks are living to regret amnestying Chauncey Billups instead of their max-contract forward who likely will never return to being a fraction of the player he once was.
Knicks Bench (minus Smith): D
Raptors Bench (minus Anderson): C +