TORONTO — They don’t celebrate Thanksgiving this week in “We The North’’ territory, but the mighty Raptors still feasted on turkeys after taking a while to preheat the oven.
The defending-champion Raptors overcame an 11-point second-quarter deficit to rout the Knicks, 126-98, at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday and drop David Fizdale’s band to 4-14.
After 18 games last season, the Knicks stood at 4-14, too. But this summer Knicks president Steve Mills spent $74 million in 2019-20 wages on new free agents and added the third pick in the draft, RJ Barrett, without improving the won-loss record.
Raptors budding superstar Pascal Siakam ruined them for 31 points in 30 minutes and Toronto (13-4) shot 17 of 35 from the 3-point stripe, placing seven double-figure scorers.
Barrett, in his first NBA game in his native Toronto, shot blanks. Playing with an upper-respiratory infection, Barrett finished with 16 points, but was 5 of 17 from the field (2 of 8 from 3-point range).
The Knicks held a 29-19 lead late in the first quarter as they were draining their outside shots with Julius Randle heating up. Their prime free agent, Randle, scored 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter and the Raptors shot just 9 of 26 in the opening period.
Predictably, the good times were short-lived.
The Knicks were up 32-21 before the Raptors awoke and piled it on. A 17-2 second-quarter run turned the tide. Siakam, whether pumping in long-range missiles or springing to the basket, dominated and finished with 20 first-half points. He made 5 of 8 3-pointers overall and heard “MVP’’ chants in the second half.
The Knicks finished shooting 36 percent. Knicks point guard Dennis Smith Jr. had a rough outing, going 1 of 7 from the field and missing all four of his 3-point attempts.
“We got to play with extreme effort for 48 minutes,’’ Fizdale said before the game. “This team doesn’t give you a break. They push the ball at you, move the ball extremely well, attack. Our defense has to be up for it.”
Indeed, the Knicks’ defense seemed to wear down as the first half carried on. The Knicks lost momentum early in Toronto’s comeback after the Raptors grabbed three offensive rebounds on a possession and wound up with the layup.
The Raptors, who are 8-0 at home, took a 58-46 halftime lead as the Knicks shot just 34 percent. The Raptors started the second half with back-to-back 3s to go up 64-56 and trigger a timeout by Fizdale 59 seconds into the third.
Barrett got a nice ovation during pregame introductions. He had one driving dunk, but missed most of his perimeter shots. On the first possession, he got blocked on a runner.
It was a garbage-time festival in the fourth quarter. Allonzo Trier, after being glued to the bench for six straight games, finally appeared midway through the fourth quarter. And rookie Ignas Brazdeikas, also a native of Barrett’s hometown of Mississauga, Ontario, appeared midway through the fourth quarter and allowed a deuce promptly when ex-Net Rondae Hollis-Jefferson scored over him from 10 feet.
The Raptors, who are right in the hunt to defend their title despite not having star point guard Kyle Lowry (thumb fracture) the last nine games, have beaten the Knicks seven straight times at Scotiabank Arena (Air Canada Centre until July 2018). Last season, they piled up victories here by 36 and 16 points, respectively.
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