Dwane Casey used the words “terrible” and “pathetic” in describing the Raptors defence a night earlier against Denver.
And that was in a win.
So it really shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the high-flying Raptors took a backseat to the defence-first, lock-down-your-man and look-to-help-your-teammate Raps Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.
The plan only worked to perfection as the Raps closed out the pre All-Star game portion of the schedule with a 92-88 win over the Knicks to extend their winning streak to four games.
They sit six games out of the eighth and final playoff position in the East with both Philadelphia and Milwaukee to get past.
“It was quite a bit improved,” Casey said after his defence held Carmelo Anthony to 12 points on 5-of-24 shooting and the usually high-scoring Knicks to just 88 points.
“I thought we closed out on the ball, contained the ball better and I don’t know who many points in the paint they had (32) but it was a lot less than 70 (which Denver scored) and that was our biggest challenge.”
And as well as the Raptors contained Anthony, the Knicks did a similar top- notch job on Rudy Gay, holding Toronto’s anointed closer to just 11 points on 4-of-21 shooting.
Gay had no problem at all pinpointing the key to the night’s win.
“When you’re trying to be a good team you need to get them no matter how it is and today was defensive,” Gay said. “It’s been offensive a lot but today it was defensive.”
Casey showed his hand just before game time when he took Amir Johnson out of the lineup and put a smaller but perhaps more familiar (to the New York game plan) Landry Fields in to start on Anthony at the power forward position.
“Landry did a heck of a job,” Casey said. “He knows that team as well as anyone. He knows their movement, he knows what they are trying to do and he gave it to us on the defensive end.”
The Raptors were forced to play the final 15 minutes of the game without starting point guard Kyle Lowry, who was ejected with three minutes to go in the third quarter for his second technical.
Raptors D-lightful in win over Knicks
Toronto Sun | Feb 14