Game No. 30: Knicks 90, Raptors 87

For three quarters, the Raptors outplayed, outworked and simply out-classed the Knicks. They did it by finding a way to keep Jeremy Lin in check for the most part, forcing him into tough shots and turnovers while Jose Calderon put on another ridiculous offensive performance on the other end of the floor.

Then the fourth quarter came, the Raptors committed nine turnovers, Lin matched Toronto’s entire fourth quarter point output and the Knicks finished the game on a 13-1 run, capped by a LINsane three-pointer with half a second left on the clock. The legend grows.

Now here are some thoughts on the game:

1- I’ve used the phrase “what a crowd” or “what an atmosphere” a few times this season, but Tuesday night’s crowd and atmosphere made previous ones look like amateur hour, including the great one in the ACC for the Lakers on Sunday. It started well before tip-off, with a noticeable buzz outside the Air Canada Centre and logjams at the entrances that I hadn’t seen since Game 1 of the Nets playoff series in 2007. It continued with a nice championship ring presentation for Dwane Casey, fans cheering the first few times Jeremy Lin touched the ball, booing Lin through the second and third quarters, and ended with mixed feelings and 20,000 people on their feet as the Taiwanese-American sensation hit the game-winner. The final scene left a noticeable amount of fans chanting “Je-re-my” as they filed through the exits. On a sidenote, the most used sign of the night was “Be my vaLINtine.”

2- Linsanity? I’m sold. Okay, I may not be as big a believer as some, and I don’t think Lin is going to be a full time superstar for years to come, but I do think he can be an above average, dynamic point guard in the NBA. He’s a pass-first point guard who sees the court well (though he still commits way, way too many turnovers), reads the situation and adjusts to it, is obviously willing and able to score in bunches when he has to and isn’t afraid to take the big shot. Is he going to average 25 and eight and single-handedly lead a team to contender status? No. ┬áCan he be the starting point guard on a legitimate playoff team with enough appeal to be an All Star one day? Yes. Lin is set to become a restricted free agent after this season, and I would have to assume that the Knicks will give him at least a short extension before then, but if for some reason they don’t, or Lin holds out to become an RFA, I’m all for paying him.

3- What happened in the fourth quarter really was a complete reversal of the script that had been written through the first three quarters. The Raptors were absolutely dominating the Knicks on the boards heading into the fourth, where the Knicks then grabbed six of their 11 total offensive rebounds in the final frame and ultimately won the game on a shot they got because of an offensive rebound and second chance. In looking at it that way, it really was a tough loss for Toronto. The Raps did almost everything right for 36 minutes or so, but failed to close it out.

4- Despite what transpired over the last six minutes, I was impressed with the Raptors’ defence yet again in this one. Toronto held New York to just 41 per cent shooting and blocked 11 shots as a team compared to just two blocks for the Knicks. The Raptors’ undoing was not being able to close out defensive possessions with secured rebounds down the stretch.

5- After going his entire career (six-plus seasons) without recording a 30-point game, Jose Calderon looked well on his way to his second straight game of 30 or more in this one, with 25 points on the board after three quarters. Jeremy Lin will get all of the credit and hype for the way the game ended and his overall play over the last six games, but make no mistake, the tide of momentum turned in New York’s favour when rookie Iman Shumpert began guarding Calderon in the fourth quarter, holding the Spaniard scoreless in the final frame. Jose put together another solid performance for Toronto, but his dry spell in the fourth and a couple of uncharacteristic turnovers down the stretch really cost the Raptors.

6- I don’t want to take too much away from Jeremy Lin or the Knicks for their hard fought win, but I have to mention the large free throw discrepancy between the two teams. Both teams played hard, aggressive basketball for most of the game. Both teams attacked the basket, both teams were physical, and yet the Knicks had a 27-15 advantage in free throw attempts and were called for just 18 personal fouls compared to the Raptors’ 28.

***

Overall, the Raptors and Knicks gave the standing-room only crowd of 20,092 one of the best basketball games of the season, and the ‘interesting’ crowd gave the two teams one of the best atmospheres, if not the best, they will experience this year. I’m still not sure what to make of the divided crowd. It was definitely pro-Raptors, and I don’t remember the Knicks getting any cheers while Jeremy Lin was on the bench. But with Lin on the floor handing the ball, it was simply electric in that building. There were two guys sitting beside me who were clearly cheering for the Raptors, but also cheering madly for Lin. They applauded Amir Johnson’s big blocks late in the game and cheered for Raptors baskets, but when Lit hit “the shot,” the same two guys exploded in hysterical euphoria.

I had a hard time trying to separate who was just cheering for the Raptors, who was cheering for the Raptors but hoping Lin had a good game, who was just cheering for Lin and who was just cheering for the Knicks. Good luck figuring it out.

Raptors Player of the Game: Jose Calderon – 39 Min, 25 Pts, 11-17 FG, 3-5 3PT, 7 Reb, 9 Ast, 3 Stl, 1 Blk, 4 TO

Knicks Player of the Game: Jeremy Lin – 43 Min, 27 Pts, 9-20 FG, 2-2 3PT, 7-11 FT, 2 Reb, 11 Ast, 1 Stl, 8 TO

Comments (18)

  1. i understand asian fans cheering for lin but i dont understand asian raptors fans cheering for lin to beat raptors. its ok if you support him and want him to do good and ok if you want to celebrate him. but how can you celebrate his winning basket against your team?

    • I wouldn’t get too bent out of shape about it. We’re in the middle of another lost season and when the biggest story in sports comes to your city at its apex and then has a great performance including the game winner, I don’t fault anyone for getting caught up in everything. This is like Vince from 2000 plus Blake from 2011 on steroids times infinity.

      From a Raptors perspective, this season is finally starting to get to me. I’m still a member of tank nation but to blow back to back games like this is still frustrating. It even hurts more when you consider the disconnect between Colangelo’s outright plan to tank and Casey trying like hell to win every game because he knows this is probably his last shot at a head coaching job after how badly he was treated in Minnesota.

      So, you get a season like this where the team is terrible like everyone expected but all the young players have taken a step back because of inconsistent playing time or misuse and the best player on the team was run into the ground to the point of getting seriously injured. I really hope that they are at least able to salvage the season by trading Calderon and or Barbosa even if they are straight salary dumps just so we can finally figure out what we have on our hands and truly begin the rebuild next season with Val and the draft pick.

      • Man…I think if Colangelo really wanted to tank the season, they would have traded Calderon by now, or amnestied him before the season, something to gaurantee they are around the same area as Charlotte and New Orleans.

        At the rate they’re at now, it’ll most likely only be a 6th or 7th overall pick. They need at least a top 5 pick if they want a chance at Barnes or Gilchrist, those two will be gone early.

    • Yeah, it was the same weird sensation when he beat my Lakers last week. I guess I see it as a win-win for me. If it were any other team beating us, I would be bummed. But if Lin beats us having to score 38, I still pump my fist.

    • I’m trying to understand the over the top reaction, I guess I cheer for Steve Nash when he plays…but I still want the Raptors to win. We all know fan reaction can really spur a team on, too bad it was the wrong team. American press is going this – I can just see the made for TV movie, Valentine’s game in TO – Toronto crowd cheering for…Lin.

    • I want to say they were cheering for the same reason I, as an Asian Raptors fan, was: for Jeremy Lin to play well and for the Raptors to lose so that we can slide further down the rankings for a better chance at Kidd-Gilchrist or Barnes. In that sense, I want the Raptors to play hard and come close in every game, losing by a narrow margin while maintaining competitiveness.

      But honestly? It was probably because most of them weren’t Asian Raptors fans, they were Asians cheering for Lin to succeed. Or so says a quick scan of my Facebook feed.

    • spoken like a true white guy

  2. I really don’t get it .. why was the crowd going nuts when he hit the game winner? Last time I checked Raptors were playing at home. I’m happy for Lin, and I’m happy for the Asian communtiy to have someone like him doing his thing the way he’s done it .. but at the end of the day, you support the home team, I don’t care who you’re facing. It was almost as pathetic as the Kobe Bryant “MVP” chants every time he comes into town.

  3. Rooting for people based on race completely ridiculous, especially in this country. Hate it when my own ethnic group does it, hate it this situation. The fact someone of your background is successful doesn’t automatically make YOU better at anything, more athletic, etc. so get over it.

  4. I don’t understand the brouhaha over people in Toronto cheering for Lin.

    I’ve been a hardcore Raps fan since before the Vince/Wince days, and when that three fell I didn’t feel the lurch that I usually feel after a Raps loss. Atleast it keeps a fantastic basketball story going.

    As a Raps fan first, really wish the last three close losses could’ve been different but I’m also loving the Lin story.

    Being a Raps fan and a basketball fan don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

  5. Nothing really to complain about, Raptors had a larger crowd than normal to play for and instead of seizing the opportunity to put on a show themselves, they fall apart as usual and blow a bunch of leads. Then they get upset that the home crowd cheered for Lin? If they closed the deal, there would be the ones the home crowd cheers for, dont blame the fans for falling apart, the fans are the same ones that cheer every home basket even when getting blown out. Ed Davis is frustrated at the home fans but he goes out and puts up 4 pts in 20+ mins??? c’mon man… Derozan? …..
    a win would have made this a non issue and probably expose some of Lin’s defensive weaknesses….but instead our boys find another way to fall apart.

  6. You can take the whole Asian-American angle out and this is still one of the most compelling streaks in the history of sports. This kid is living a life that noone could have dreamed of. Game after game he has only proven all the doubters wrong and it’s compelling that he can overcome such adversity day after day. Absolutely nothing has to do with his race. To me, that’s just a tiny sidenote to an extraordinary hoop dream. If you’re not cheering for this kid, there is something seriously wrong with your soul. If half this level of play carries over to the playoffs and the Knicks win a single series, this will be talked about for a long time to come. I don’t blame the fans for cheering; that was a once in a lifetime experience. This kid may have just saved the NBA. Who knew!?

    • I agree Bojangles. The buzz around the NBA is that this is THE best first 5 starts for any player in the NBA, EVER. They were saying during the game yesterday, that no player in NBA history has ever played better in their first 5 starts (now 6), so it is literally history in the making. It’s a great story to be a part of.

      If i had to guess, its the fans who don’t follow NBA, or know very little about it are probably the ones who think its the whole Asian-American thing.

      • The crowd last night was reacting because it was an Asian thing. Don’t get it twisted. I was seated next to two very large groups that were there through their Taiwanese associations. I also came out to see what the hype was all about. I can respect the young kid’s play, and loving the underdog story, but cheering for the visiting team? If you follow sports, that simply isn’t done. Sure, show up in your Knicks jersey and cheer for your team throughout the whole game, and I can respect that. Being there for the Lin show, and still cheering for the Knicks, that’s different. I would never think of cheering for Jordan, the Bulls, Kobe or the Lakers, although I respected and was a fan of those players and teams. But you’ll never see me turn my back on my home team when they’re playing us. I’ll be watching this Lin phenomena as it goes on, and I hope he does well, but when he steps onto our court, he’s the enemy.

        • That’s what im saying. All those people who were cheering for him probably don’t follow the NBA, or are even aware of why he’s getting so much attention.

          Also, cheering for the visiting team isn’t done in sports? That’s done a lot in the sports world, all the time. Just look at whenever the Leafs play, even in the States. You never go a game without Leafs fans cheering in the opponents building. Especially Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg, Buffalo, etc. The fans are literally everywhere.

          Another example was Sunday vs the Lakers. You could easily see/hear the Lakers fans in the building, it was obvious. NBA teams like New York, Boston, LA, Chicago, are going to have fans everywhere.

          People do it all the time dude, its not just a Jeremy Lin thing, even though he is the center of the NBA world right now. However, I respect the loyal Raptors fans like yourself. Even though you wouldn’t cheer against the home team, there’s plenty of people who have favourite teams outside of Toronto, and will.

  7. I don’t mind fans cheering for good basketball, regardless of the jerseys. Someone tell Ed Davis that that’s what happens at MSG every night. Players there are secure enough to know that while the fans enjoy any show of good ball, they still want the home team to win.

    In other news, I hate the trade Jose chatter. You trade him when you have an opportunity to make the team better (BC just attempted that this past summer, before MJ blocked the Chandler trade). It’ll happen if the right deal comes along. You don’t trade because you’re in some arbitrary “rebuild mode…….must trade all players……..rebuild mode……dump dump dump”. You make deals that help when those deals become possible. BC does not live in a vacuum.

    Also, Casey tanking. I agree he seems to be overplaying some guys. On the other hand, everbody stops competing in full-on tank mode. You don’t learn about or develop anybody when you’re playing meaningless games and not even trying to win.

    • When it comes to rebuilding a team, 9/10 times you have to make the team worse before it gets better. So what if it takes a couple of years of terrible basketball. Would the Thunder be where they are right now if they didn’t get Westbrook or Harden? No, not even close. Would the Bulls be where they are without Rose? No. The list goes on and on, and on.

      The only teams capable of going from mediocre to great are big market teams, where the best players want to be, or where they have the money to spend on big time players. Toronto is not a big market team by NBA standards.

      There’s a reason why Toronto has sucked for so long. Except for last year, they haven’t been bad enough to land a top 5 pick since Bargnani, and they haven’t been good enough to make the playoffs for all but two years either. They have made some bad draft selections, and have overpaid what are role players on most teams for starters money.

      For small market teams like Toronto, the only way is to do it through the draft. High picks for a few years, even if its pitiful to watch. Draft the right guys, and the team is set for years.

  8. haha :)

    context is everything

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