The New York Knicks traveled to Canada on Friday night for the first portion of a home-and-home against the Toronto Raptors. The Knicks extended their winning streak to three games and officially clinched a playoff spot with the 99-94 win.
The Knicks had been winless in two contests against Toronto this season and were eager to improve on their middling record in the division.
After a mostly even first quarter, New York ratcheted up its defense in the second to open a 50-37 halftime advantage. Toronto shot just 5-of-20 from the field in the second frame for just 15 points.
DeMar DeRozan and Rudy Gay both struggled for the Raptors in the first half, combining to shoot 5-of-15 as Toronto converted only 35.7 percent of its field goals to start the game.
Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 15 first-half points, although those came on just 5-of-15 shooting. He finished with 37 points, though Kenyon Martin was the star of the night with 19 points and 11 boards.
Alan Anderson came off the bench for Toronto and abused the Knicks for 20 points in the third quarter as the Raptors fought back to within six. He finished up a mammoth night with 35 points. Fortunately for New York, Melo scored 11 points of his own in the third, including a buzzer-beater.
The Raptors pared the lead down to just two points midway through the fourth quarter, but New York pulled away behind timely hooping from Anthony, K-Mart and Raymond Felton.
It was a sweet victory for New York, but it will need to stay focused on its northerly neighbors since it plays again at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.
Toronto came into the game only 26-42, but tied for ninth place in the East. Still, the Raptors are nine games in the loss column behind the No. 8 spot.
The Knicks had been 40-26, clinging to third place in the East and a one-game lead over the Brooklyn Nets in the division.
Let's grade the entire playoff-clinching victory.