The rain delay Sunday night at Madison Square Garden, yes, that’s right, it would have been a lot more expensive for the Knicks than the one the Mets faced earlier in the day.
While the Knicks were in the process of gaining an 18-point lead in the second half, the game was delayed 14 minutes due to water falling from the ceiling onto the court.
The Raptors went ahead shortly after play resumed, but RJ Barrett’s 3-pointer with 34.3 seconds left and Julius Randle’s late safety free throws helped deliver a critical 102-96 victory for Tom’s team. Thibodeau.
The Knicks’ first win in eighth place in 10 games against the Raptors since November 2017 was significant for them in the Eastern Conference standings, increasing their cushion over No. 11 Toronto to six games with 18 remaining. The top six teams from each conference automatically qualify for postseason play, and teams seven through 10 are subject to game scenarios.
Randle scored a team-high 26 points and Barrett scored 19 for the Knicks (27-27), who have won consecutive games after losing five of their previous six. They will play again at home on Monday against the Lakers, who are left without injured stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Nerlens Noel contributed nine points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots for the Knicks, while Gary Trent Jr. had 23 points and Kyle Lowry added 19 for the Raptors (21-33).
The Knicks had built a 68-50 lead early in the third quarter, but the Raptors came back up 37-15 to take an 87-83 lead on a Rodney Hood 3-pointer with seven minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Knicks scored the next nine points to regain the lead, including a shot by Barrett and a straight 3 by Alec Burks for a 92-87 lead with 3:24 to play. Barrett’s right corner 3 in the final minute extended a cushion from one point to four, and after Pascal Siakam was called for traveling with a chance to tie the score, Randle made four straight free throws in the final 10 seconds to seal the victory.
The Raptors did not have Fred VanVleet (hip) and OG Anunoby (rest), but they had scored 135 points without them, and with Lowry and Siakam also out, in Saturday’s win over Cleveland.
“They have had several injuries, but it is a deep and talented team. They scored 87 points in the first half of their game [Friday] night, and they had several of their players for that particular game. So you have to be prepared for them, ”Thibodeau said. “They can turn you over and get into the open floor and are very dangerous.”
The sweltering Knicks defense held the Raptors on just 13 of 42 shots (29.3 percent) in the first half, beginning with Bullock’s interception of a Siakam pass on Toronto’s first possession for a breakaway dunk. The Knicks made 10 of 12 3-point attempts in the first quarter, but Randle’s three-point conversion in the closing seconds gave them a 27-16 lead.
Derrick Rose (11 points) was hacked on a 3-point attempt and knocked down all three free kicks for a 14-point band early in the second. Randle, who finished with 18 points at the half, hit two free throws with 13.4 seconds left to give the Knicks a 56-42 lead at halftime.
Barrett and Reggie Bullock (10 points) connected from the center early in the third to extend the Knicks’ lead to 18. Siakim and Trent combined for 14 in a 16-4 Toronto run to cut the lead to six, 72-66, with five minutes left in the quarter.
The game was delayed 14 minutes from the 3:58 mark in the third quarter, with the Knicks leading by 10, due to what the team called “a little trickle of rain” coming from the roof. After the delay, the Raptors came within two points, 78-76, at the end of the quarter with 3s from Trent and Chris Boucher.