Marc Gasol Raptors Debut Results In Win Over Knicks
Marc Gasol made his Raptors debut at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
So much for low profile.
Knicks Start With a Bang
The New York Knickerbockers took the fight to the Raptors early — building up a 14-3 lead in the first 5 minutes of the game.
That set the tone for a dogfight all night.
The Raptors seemed a little surprised at the early, inspired effort by the Knicks. Newly acquired DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 11 rebounds in the first HALF.
The Raptors managed to come back slowly, but New York’s defense was very aggressive, holding the Raptors to 38.4% from the field all night.
Marc Gasol Anchors Defence
The Raptors managed to pull slightly ahead 46-42 at halftime, partly because of Gasol’s leadership on the defensive side of the floor.
While Gasol is still clearly becoming acclimated to the offensive schemes, he already looks like the best defensive player on the Raptors. That is not an easy feat when you play alongside two-time Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard. But Gasol is also a former DPOY, so that gives you a sense of just how strong this Raptors team could become playoffs time.
Gasol is already the best passing big man in Raptors franchise history, and he brings a grounded leadership Toronto hasn’t had all year — maybe ever.
Fourth Quarter Battle
The second half was close all game, and it was obvious this would be one of those competitive NBA games decided in the last five minutes.
And it was.
With seven minutes to go, the teams were deadlocked at 85. The final five minutes would come down to experience and execution. Unfortunately for the Knicks, the Raptors have multiple future Hall of Famers on the current roster — and Dennis Smith Jr still can’t hit free throws consistently.
The Knicks have the worst record in the NBA for a reason. There is a lot of young talent on this team — and Jordan’s energy is infectious — but late 4th quarter execution decided this game.
Danny Green calmly swished threes during crunch time, while the Knicks don’t have established NBA scorers yet. Smith Jr. showed flashes and Kevin Knox had moments, but in the end, New York sputtered when it mattered the most.
The final result was a five-point game, but the Raptors held the advantage quite firmly in the crucial, last five minutes of the contest.
Still, I was very impressed by the Knicks defense. So it’s certainly something they can build on.
Final result: Toronto 104, New York 99
Kyle Lowry – 22 points, 5 3PM, 5/6 FT, 4 REB, 5 AST, 2 STL, 2 BLK
DeAndre Jordan – 10 points, 18 REB, 3 AST, 1 BLK
Toronto plays the Brooklyn Nets on Monday, February 11th @ 7:30 pm in Toronto.
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