The Toronto Raptors aim to build on an impressive win over the surging Phoenix Suns when they continue their three-game homestand Friday night against the New York Knicks.
The Raptors ended the Suns’ seven-game winning streak Wednesday night with a 112-105 victory after Toronto took a 115-103 loss against the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday in New York.
“This is a group of people … they don’t quit,” Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic said. “They want to win, they want to represent our team, they want to represent the city of Toronto and all of Canada. Those guys take a lot of pride in what they do.”
The Knicks, meanwhile, needed 42 points from Jalen Brunson to eke out a 118-112 win over the lowly Detroit Pistons on Thursday night. The Pistons took their 16th consecutive loss.
In Toronto’s win over Phoenix, Scottie Barnes scored 23 points and Pascal Siakam finished with 22 points. OG Anunoby played a strong defensive game and scored 13 points.
“Every time we play at home, there is extra energy that those guys feel in front of our crowd and it’s really fun to coach this team,” Rajakovic said.
Anunoby was on the all-defensive second team last season, and he is showing that he could be considered for the first team this season.
“I think I get better every year, so I hope people notice,” Anunoby said.
Barnes put up 12 points in the fourth quarter as the Raptors sealed the victory.
“I got that dog in me,” Barnes said. “I get real energized. I just found the rhythm today, just had it going. Found something and just kept sticking with it, being aggressive. It was working.”
Toronto’s Dennis Schroder had eight points and 12 assists and did not have a turnover.
The Raptors were coming off two road losses, while the Suns earned a last-second, 116-113 win over the Knicks on Sunday before having two days off.
“It’s the beauty of the league,” Rajakovic said. “It’s the challenge that’s ahead of us. We cannot control what we cannot control.”
After defeating the Pistons, the Knicks are 9-0 against teams that entered Thursday with a record below .500.
“You guys talk about that all the time and I think, one, you can’t get here without being a great player,” New York coach Tom Thibodeau said before the game. “So everyone on their roster is an NBA player. That means they’re all great players. So there’s ups and downs in a season, and everyone’s capable of beating you.”
Brunson, who fell three points shy of his season-best 45, shot 7-for-12 from 3-point range. Julius Randle contributed 29 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. The Knicks needed all of that against the team with the NBA’s worst record.
“You have to be ready to play each and every night,” Thibodeau said, “and you have to put the necessary work into getting ready to play. That’s maybe the most important thing. To be mentally ready and then physically ready. But it starts with your mind.”
Brunson scored 16 points in the first quarter as the Knicks took a 31-17 lead.
“To Jalen, winning is the most important thing. He’s always going to read the game,” Thibodeau said. “Sometimes I think in transition you have to be a little more aggressive when you know they’re trying to double-team, but I just thought he read the game really well.”