The Toronto Raptors kept their slim playoff hopes alive and crushed those of the New York Knicks with a 102-95 win at Madison Square Garden on Saturday
The matinee victory made it six-in-a-row for the Raptors (30-45) — the first time they've strung together that many wins in more than two years.
Andrea Bargnani had 23 points and seven rebounds and Chris Bosh added 17 points and 13 boards to lead the way for Toronto and help the team match their last six-game streak in April of 2007.
It was a huge win for the Raptors. A loss at New York coupled with a win by Chicago would have snuffed any hope Toronto still harbours of making the playoffs.
"We keep playing. We don't pay attention to the standings," Bosh said. "We just try to win the next game and they say we're not eliminated yet. So until that day we have to prepare the right way for every game."
With the loss, the Knicks were eliminated from any possible playoff contention, adding a fifth year to their post-season drought.
"I don't know, I was pretty disappointed that we didn't do it, to be honest with you," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said.
"I just thought too many games would come down to where we could take control of it —15 or 16 games less than five points — and we just never came up with the big play or the big stops, and tonight was just another night."
Knicks blow lead
Al Harrington and Chris Duhon each had 22 points in a losing effort as the Knicks (29-47) squandered a double-digit lead in the second quarter to lose their fourth in as many games and tenth of their past 11.
"Once you get a feel of being in the playoffs and playing in the playoff games, that's a feeling that you strive to continue to have," said Duhon, who played in the post-season with Chicago. "It's a lot of fun playing in the playoffs."
New York returned to MSG following a winless three-game roadtrip, ending with a 111-104 loss to Denver on Tuesday.
The Raptors had to fight back for the win after a slow start that saw them trailing by as much as 12 in the second quarter. Thanks to a late 13-5 run, they narrowed New York's lead to a single basket at halftime.
In the third quarter, back-to-back three-pointers by Bargnani and Anthony Parker began a 10-0 run and Toronto started the final quarter up by four.
The Raptors put the game away in the fourth, pulling ahead by as much as 13 and surviving a scare when the Knicks cut the lead to just four points with less than 23 seconds remaining. The Raptors and Knicks will finish up the home-and-home series when they meet again Sunday night in Toronto.