TORONTO—On one memorable play Sunday afternoon, Kyle Lowry bolted to save a loose ball, and was running so hard he ran halfway up one of the exit tunnels. He needed to grab onto a railing to slow himself down.
Lowry, who’s built his game on hustle and hard work, was at his bulldog-best, scoring 22 points and doling out nine assists to lift the Raptors to their sixth consecutive victory—a 118-108 win over the struggling New York Knicks.
Lou Williams also had 22 points, while Greivis Vasquez finished with 21 points for Toronto (22-6), which is 14-3 at Air Canada Centre.
Terrence Ross finished with 18 points, including a stunning dunk that saw him corral a long pass from Lowry and take flight near the free-throw line. James Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas finished with 10 points apiece.
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 points to top the Knicks (5-25), losers of 15 of their last 16 games.
Former Raptor Jose Calderon, who received a warm ovation during the Knicks’ introduction, finished with 15 points and 10 assists.
The Eastern Conference-leading Raptors had needed overtime to beat the Knicks 95-90 a week earlier in new York, but Sunday was a far different story. Toronto led from the opening whistle and had cobbled together a 17-point lead by the third quarter.
The Raptors led 91-75 going into the fourth, in front of a capacity crowd of 19,800 at the ACC.
When Williams drained two free throws, it gave Toronto a 106-88 lead with six minutes to play, and prompted the crowd to chant “We want Bru-no!” in reference to seldom-used fan favourite Brazilian rookie Bruno Caboclo.
The Knicks would pull within 12 points a couple of times in the dying minutes, but that was as close as they would get. The raucous fans were rewarded in the final two minutes when Raptors coach Dwane Casey subbed in Caboclo and fellow Brazilian Lucas Nogueira.
The dominant victory comes as the Raptors head out on a six-game road trip, beginning Monday in Chicago.
Toronto played its 12th game without injured all-star DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors are 9-3 without DeRozan, who’s sidelined with a torn groin tendon.
Toronto’s Landry Fields was held out of the game after failing his second concussion test. Fields landed on his head in a frightening crash in Friday’s 110-100 win in Detroit.
Vasquez addressed the ACC crowd pre-game, thanking the fans who travelled to Detroit, and wishing everyone happy holidays.
Knicks forward and Montreal native Samuel Dalembert was ejected in the third quarter for a Flagrant 2 foul—a hard elbow to the face of Valanciunas.
The Raptors shot 50 per cent in the first quarter to quickly open up a 10-point lead. They went into the second quarter ahead 33-25.
Toronto continued to build its lead in the second, and a three from Williams put them up by 16 points with 5:21 to play in the first half. The Knicks ended the frame with a 15-6 run, and the Raptors took a 58-51 advantage into the dressing room at halftime.
Ross’s slam dunk put the Raptors up by 17 points with 7:09 left in a third quarter that saw Toronto outscore the Knicks 33-24 and put them up by 16 points going into the fourth.
Following Monday’s game, the Raptors will take five days off before opening a tough five-game road trip against the Clippers in Los Angeles. The trip, which coincides with the world junior hockey championships in Toronto, will see them also play Denver, Portland, Golden State and Phoenix, before returning home to host Charlotte on Jan. 8.