Raptors escape N.Y. after dodging Brunson’s bid

NEW YORK — As Jalen Brunson‘s potential game-winning 3-pointer sailed through the air, Toronto Raptors coach Nick Nurse had a clear look at its trajectory.

And, as it arced toward the basket, Nurse only had one thing going through his mind.

“I just kind of said, ‘Please don’t go in,'” he later said with a laugh.

“[I] was just hoping he was gonna miss.”

Fortunately for the Raptors, Brunson’s shot ricocheted off the back of the rim and into the air, allowing Toronto to escape with a thrilling 123-121 overtime victory over the New York Knicks — one the Raptors attempted to give away in the final seconds of both regulation and overtime.

“We’ll take whatever we can get at this point,” Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said.

It was VanVleet’s mistake with 18 seconds to go in the fourth quarter that set in motion a chaotic final few moments of regulation. After Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam both missed jumpers that could have given Toronto the lead, the shot clock turned off when Julius Randle grabbed the defensive rebound. But, rather than playing defense and forcing the Knicks to make a shot on the final possession, VanVleet — who had an outstanding game otherwise, finishing with 33 points, eight assists and just one turnover in 45 minutes — grabbed Brunson to commit a foul, giving New York two free throws as a result.

“I was just trying to make sure we got the last shot,” VanVleet said with a smile. “I was just trying to make sure we got the last shot, and we’ll leave it at that.”

But, after Brunson split his two free throws, and VanVleet missed a 3 at the other end, Barnes grabbed the offensive rebound, was fouled and made both free throws to put Toronto back up by one.

Then, after Brunson missed a potential go-ahead jumper and Barnes was fouled by Randle in the ensuing chase for the rebound, he made the first of two free throws but missed the second, giving New York the ball back with 6 seconds go.

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau elected not to call timeout, and RJ Barrett — who grew up just outside Toronto — proceeded to go coast-to-coast and throw down a massive dunk over Barnes with 0.6 seconds left, sending the game to an extra session.

“I thought it was a hell of a play, and that’s how the game went,” Thibodeau said. “Back and forth. Look, it was a quick turnaround for us, and we kept fighting the whole game.”

That fight from the Knicks extended all the way to when the game looked like it was firmly in Toronto’s control when the Raptors had the ball with under a minute to go and a six-point lead.

All that happened then?

In order:

• Randle stole an O.G. Anunoby pass, drove the length of the court and was fouled while making a bucket to cut Toronto’s lead to four.

• Randle then missed the ensuing free throw, and, after two Knicks offensive rebounds, Barrett was fouled and hit both free throws to cut the lead to two.

• After Toronto ran the clock down, Precious Achiuwa missed a 3-pointer that New York grabbed the rebound from.

• And, finally, on a fast break when Thibodeau again elected not to call timeout, Brunson got the clean look at what would’ve been the game-winning shot.

“I just [took] what the defense gave me,” Brunson said. “I saw him backing up, I saw the time, and it’s a shot I work on all the time. I thought it was good.”

In the end, though, it was not, as the Knicks — who were playing on the second night of a back-to-back after winning in Detroit on Sunday — fell to 11-12 at Madison Square Garden this season. The loss left New York as the NBA’s only winning team to have a losing record at home, and one of only six teams to have a sub-.500 record at home.

Toronto, meanwhile, has now won four of its last five games and picked up only its sixth road victory of the season — only San Antonio (5) and Houston (4) have less — as it tries to climb out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings.

“I hope so,” Nurse said, when asked if this could be a galvanizing win for the Raptors. “There’s been some really rough stretches for us, and there’s been a lot of games where we haven’t played that well. But in saying that, there’s a lot of them we have played really well, against really good teams at home, on the road, wherever, that we haven’t come out on the right side of a break here or there and we would’ve picked a lot of those off.

“I think, for me, we got to certainly have less nights where we’re just, it doesn’t seem like we’re moving, running very well or playing with pace. Less of that and more like this. I think that we’re going to be in with a chance to beat anybody, like we were a month ago. We were playing some really good basketball against some really good teams in some really tough situations, and we know we’re capable of doing that. So I hope we can just come out and play with that kind of execution at both ends. Really solid, organized, together, all that kind of stuff.”

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Lakers’ Reaves doesn’t qualify for golf event
Murray, ice-cold in G6, adds elbow to injury woes
NBA playoffs: What will decide Celtics-Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals
Nuggets denied repeat by team ‘built to beat us’
Fueled by Conley, Wolves roll by 45 to force G7

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *