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Knicks blow another big lead but hold on to beat Raptors 112-108

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Knicks Quentin Grimes guards Fred Van Vleet
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives against New York Knicks guard Quentin Grimes (6) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Toronto. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)

Well, the Knicks almost did it again. After blowing a big lead on Tuesday against the Spurs and holding on for a win, they blew multiple big leads on Friday night before closing out the Raptors in Toronto 112-108. 

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Closing out games has been a major problem for the Knicks this season, which we covered earlier this week. They blew a nine-point lead with 44 seconds left in a loss to Dallas in December, blew a 23-point lead against the Hawks in November, collapsed down the stretch against the 76ers on Christmas, and gave up a seven-point fourth-quarter lead in a loss to the Bulls

On Friday night, they were up as much as 17 in the first half and then up by 15 with just over three minutes to go in the game. Yet, they found themselves with just a two-point advantage with 44 seconds left. 

This time, both Jalen Brunson and Julius Randle missed free throws down the stretch before Brunson made a couple of big shots, the defense forced a few bad shots, and the Knicks held on to the lead. 

Julius Randle tried to prove he was worthy of an All-Star big by finishing as the game’s leading scorer with 32 points and 11 rebounds. Over the Last Month, Julius Randle ranks first in the NBA in total points, second in rebounds, and sixth in three-pointers. 

Randle missed from 3 on his first shot of the game and then made six straight, five from long range. He scored 19 in the opening quarter as New York led 30-26 after the first quarter. 

The Raptors trailed by three points through three quarters but gave up an 8-0 run to begin the fourth before battling back. Siakam’s 3-pointer with 49 seconds left made it 107-104. Randle split a pair at the line before Trent connected from 3-point range, cutting it to 108-106, but Brunson answered with a three-point play, putting the Knicks up 111-106 with 22 seconds left.

Mitchell Robinson was also instrumental in the victory, finishing with 10 points and 18 rebounds before fouling out. Jalen Brunson added 26 points, Quentin Grimes pitched in 16, and Immanuel Quickley added 13 as the Knicks won their fourth straight game and for the first time north of the border in more than seven years, snapping an 11-game road losing streak against the Raptors.

New York’s previous win in Toronto was a 111-109 victory on Nov. 10, 2015. After that game, the referees acknowledged missing Knicks star Carmelo Anthony step out of bounds on a pivotal play late in the fourth quarter.

Fred VanVleet scored 28 points and Gary Trent Jr. had 27 for the struggling Raptors. Toronto has lost seven of its past eight at home and 11 of 14 overall.

In the first meeting this season between these two teams, Toronto’s Pascal Siakam scored a career-high 52 points in a Dec. 21 win at New York. However, Grimes did a tremendous job guarding him on Friday night, holding Siakam to 4-for-14 from the field and finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Knicks are now 22-18 and in the midst of a four-game winning streak after losing five straight wins. They’ll have two days off before heading home to take on the Bucks on Monday night. 

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Written with additional reporting by By IAN HARRISON of the Associated Press

For more Knicks coverage, visit amNY Sports

The Raptors defend Jalen Brunson of the Knicks
Toronto Raptors guard Gary Trent Jr. (33) and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) try to get possession of the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 6, 2023, in Toronto. (Cole Burston/The Canadian Press via AP)