The Toronto Raptors went toe-to-toe with a tenacious New York Knicks (12-34) squad Friday night. Despite a late game run by the Knicks the Raptors held on to win 118-112. Toronto now leads the season series 2-0 and has won 6 straight games. The Raptors improve to 31-14.

The Battle of the East

While the Milwaukee Bucks hold a daunting 40-6 record and sit comfortably in first place in the Eastern Conference the true battle is right below them. The difference between Toronto, Miami, and Boston is a mere half a game as they battle for the second seed.  The Raptors look to trend upwards as 9 of their next 11 games are against teams with a below .500 record. Boston faces 6 such teams in that time frame while Miami will face 7, including a match against each other. Toronto has the perfect chance to create some breathing room. Claiming the 2nd seed will award Nick Nurse the opportunity to coach Team Giannis in the All-Star game. That would be his first All-Star appearance.

Hollis-Jefferson draws the foul against Portis

Letting the Boys Play

The referees were extremely conservative with their whistle during the match. The total number of shooting fouls called in the first half of Friday’s game was eight. It took the New York Knicks 22 minutes to shoot their first free throw. While The Raptors utilizing a 5-out offence was a factor in the light whistle, the Knicks commit the third most fouls per game. Combined the teams average 20.3 fouls in the first half of games making the lack of foul calls that much more jarring. Nick Nurse won a coaching challenge during the match, something he’s been notoriously bad at all season.

Dead-Eye Dinos

The Raptors shot an otherworldly 48.6% (17/35) from long range against the Knicks. After shooting 22% (2/9) in the first quarter it was as if Toronto couldn’t miss. In true Raptors form it was a team effort. 8 Raptors made a three in the contest with Hollis-Jefferson not attempting the shot. Kyle Lowry lead the charge from the perimeter with 26 points. Fred VanVleet and Norman Powell each had 16.

Pascal Siakam Slam Dunk
Siakam rises up for the slam

Spicy P: All-Star

Pascal Siakam is the Toronto’s latest All-star. The Raptors now hold the longest active streak for All-Star game starters.

Siakam put on a show. The All-star starter produced 23 points on 60%/40%/100% shooting splits. He was able to contribute to the game in other ways as well, producing 7 rebounds and 3 assists in the contest. Pascal shines in the Raptors 5-out offence. He constantly takes advantage of the open lanes with his quickness. His ability to slash into the paint for easy points is astonishing when combined with his vision.

Up Next for the Raptors:

The Raptors will take on the Spurs (20-24) in San Antonio on Sunday January 26th at 4:00 PM/EST. Toronto’s last loss was against the Spurs on January 12th and will look for revenge.