Battered Knicks start off new year with loss to Raptors

NBA: New York Knicks at Toronto Raptors
Jan 2, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) battles for a loose ball with New York Knicks guard RJ Barrett (9) in the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The new year started the same way that the old one ended for the Knicks: with a loss. 

New York dropped its first game of 2022, 1201-105 to the Toronto Raptors in a nearly empty Scotiabank Arena. The loss dropped the Knicks to 17-20 and Sunday marked the third consecutive time they’ve fallen to the Raptors. 

Evan Fornier led the Knicks in scoring with 20 points in 25:50 of playing time in the loss. Obi Toppin put up 19 points and had 6 assists and 6 rebounds. R.J. Barrett added 19 points as well, along with 4 rebounds, 3 assists and a steal. 

Quentin Grimes had 13 points off the bench for New York

The Knicks have had to deal with a string of injuries and COVID-19 issues.

Mitchell Robinson was placed into COVID-19 protocol on New Year’s Day and Kemba Walker missed Sunday’s game due to a sore left knee.  Julius Randle, Nerlens Noel, Jericho Sims and Wayne Selden have all been sidelined by COVID-19 as well. 

It was easy to see the impact that had on the Knicks roster in Toronto. The Raptors jumped to a quick lead and stayed in the driver’s seat all afternoon. 

The Raptors opened up a 17-6 lead in the first quarter after Fred VanVleet, who finished the day with a game-high 35 points, knocked down a 25-foot three-pointer. New York was able to pull within three to end the opening quarter with a 21-13 run, capped off with a three from Immanuel Quickley to make it a 30-27 game. 

That would be the closest that the Knicks would come to evening the score for the rest of the game as the Raptors pulled away in the second quarter, going on a 15-1  run.  New York struggled to knock down much of anything in the second, shooting just 5-for-14 in the second. 

The Knicks finished the game shooting 44.9% (38-78) from the field and 33.3% (12-36) from beyond the arc. 

Sunday’s loss was the first time New York topped 100 points in its past four games.

The game was also played in front of a sparse crowd due to the ongoing uptick in COVID-19 cases north of the border. Due to a recent mandate in Ontario, sporting events are limited to a capacity limit of 1,000 fans. The Raptors did not sell tickets to Sunday’s game, instead only allowing friends and family members of players to attend. 

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