Raptors in ‘must-win’ mode as they face Knicks

NBA

The New York Knicks go for their third straight victory Thursday night when they visit the temporary home of the winless Toronto Raptors at Tampa, Fla.

The Knicks, led by Julius Randle’s triple-double, defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers 95-86 Tuesday night and have two wins in four games.

The Raptors have lost their first three games after falling to the Philadelphia 76ers 100-93 on Tuesday despite leading by 14 points in the second half. Toronto has not started a season so poorly since an 0-9 start in 2005-06.

The Raptors have won eight consecutive games against the Knicks.

Randle had 28 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists as the Knicks handed the Cavaliers their first loss in four games. It was his seventh career triple-double, his first with the Knicks.

Randle lost some weight to prepare for his second season with the Knicks, who started a four-game road trip Tuesday.

“They challenged me going into the offseason to come back a better player,” Randle said. “I’m going to put that pressure on myself as well to challenge myself and get better every year. Last year was a great learning experience for me. But this year I’m coming back a better player and came back in great shape. And that’s just part of the culture we’re building. We’re competing and not backing down from anybody.”

“I saw what type of shape he was in, so I knew he was highly motivated,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think that’s a big advantage for him. I also think he has a pretty good understanding of his teammates and what their strengths are. And he’s playing unselfishly.”

Elfrid Payton scored 10 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter Tuesday and added seven assists and eight rebounds in his second successive strong outing.

Reggie Bullock made five 3-pointers — the Knicks shot 56.0 percent (14 of 25) from beyond the arc — and finished with 17 points.

The Knicks continue to deal with injuries. Obi Toppin (calf), Austin Rivers (groin), Immanuel Quickley (hip), Dennis Smith Jr. (quad) and Alec Burks (ankle) were inactive on Tuesday.

The Raptors had another poor third quarter on Tuesday and failed to make big plays at key points in the fourth.

“We don’t have time to waste no more,” said Toronto guard Kyle Lowry, who scored 24 points Tuesday and added nine assists and eight rebounds. “We’re 0-3 and we need a win really, really, really bad, and I feel like we’re getting to that point where it’s a must-win. We’ve got to do everything we possibly can to win the next game (Thursday).”

Pascal Siakam, who was ineffective in the fourth quarter again, fouled out with about 25 seconds left and walked straight to the locker room area. He was missed 15 of his 23 shots in scoring 20 points.

“I didn’t see that, I’m sure I will hear about it,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I’ll address it when I get back in the locker room. I’m sure he was frustrated.”

Siakam committed five of his fouls in the final six minutes.

“He’s got to get a little stronger at the end of his drives,” Nurse said. “He’s got to play to make a tough finishing basket rather than playing for the possible foul.”

–Field Level Media

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