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Knicks enter with score to settle vs. Raptors

Jan 4, 2023; New York, New York, USA; New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) controls the ball against San Antonio Spurs guard Malaki Branham (22) during the fourth quarter at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The visiting New York Knicks will be out to avenge a streak-breaking loss to the Toronto Raptors two weeks ago when the teams meet again Friday night.

Toronto’s Pascal Siakam scored a career-best 52 points Dec. 21 in the Raptors’ 113-106 victory at New York that ended the Knicks’ run of eight straight wins. The victory also squashed the Raptors’ six-game losing streak.

The decision was the start of five consecutive losses for the Knicks, who have rebounded to win three straight after defeating the visiting San Antonio Spurs 117-114 on Wednesday night.

Since defeating the Knicks, the Raptors are 2-4 following a 104-101 overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday to open a six-game homestand.

Instead of dwelling on the defeat, the Raptors will try to carry the momentum from a stunning comeback against the Bucks into Friday’s game.

The Bucks led 90-69 with 3:50 remaining in the game and they still led by 16 points two minutes later. But the Raptors came back to tie the game at 97-all on Gary Trent Jr.’s 3-pointer with 1.5 seconds to play in regulation.

“I don’t think I’ve seen one that weird,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said.

The weirdness started early with poor shooting by both sides that left Milwaukee leading 13-12 after the first quarter and 39-38 at halftime.

Scottie Barnes did not score until his 15-point fourth quarter, and he added four points in overtime.

“We need him to be more aggressive from start to finish,” Nurse said.

Fred VanVleet led the Raptors with 28 points and 12 assists, while Trent scored 22.

Toronto shot 32.8 percent (38 of 116) from the field.

“I still say that we’ve got to continue to play to our identity which is playing pretty good solid defense and giving ourselves a chance,” Nurse said. “And I think, I haven’t watched the tape yet, but I think there’s a lot of makeable shots out there. We’ve just got to get over this hump of guys that career-wise have shot the ball a lot better. And I think those shots are there.

“I think we’re creating them. … I think the major thing is we got to get some confidence back at that end.”

In defeating the Spurs on Wednesday, the Knicks got some payback for a 122-115 loss at San Antonio on Dec. 29.

Jalen Brunson, who did not play against the Spurs last week because of a sore hip, led the Knicks with a regular-season career-best 38 points on Wednesday.

“We had to turn it up a notch,” said Brunson, who shot 17 of 27 from the field and added seven rebounds and six assists. “We had to grind it out, just find a way to win. I think most importantly, we kind of just talked to ourselves and got ourselves in the mindset we need to finish the game. No matter how, we’ve just got to do it.”

Julius Randle scored 25 points on 9-of-26 shooting from the field and added 13 rebounds, four blocked shots and three steals.

“Just playing hard,” Randle said. “I was garbage so I had to do something.”

Immanuel Quickley added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

“It felt like we were just playing harder towards the end,” Quickley said, “and sometimes that’s just what it takes, giving a little bit extra effort.”

R.J. Barrett (lacerated right index finger) remained out for the Knicks.

–Field Level Media