The streak is over.
The hottest team in the NBA lost to the coldest on Wednesday night, when the Knicks folded down the stretch and succumbed to a career night from Pascal Siakam in a 113-106 defeat to the Raptors.
Siakam finished with a career-high 52 points, including the dagger and-one lay-up with 15 seconds remaining. It was the first 50-point game at MSG since James Harden dropped 61 for the Rockets in 2019.
The Raptors (14-18) snapped their six-game losing streak and New York’s eight-game winning streak.
The Knicks (18-14) led by a point after RJ Barrett’s thunderous dunk with 3:20 remaining, but came up empty on their next three possessions — including a blown lay-up from Julius Randle — and the Raptors pounced. The Knicks got spirited offensive performances from Barrett (30 points) and Randle (30 points, 13 rebounds), but Jalen Brunson was bottled up while managing a season-low seven points on 3-of-14 shooting.
They had trouble cracking Toronto’s zone defense, and, on the other end, stopping Siakam. The All-NBA forward shot 17-for-25 with nine rebounds and seven assists.
The Knicks were missing their two-way cog in the lineup, Quentin Grimes, who suffered a sprained ankle the night prior against the Warriors. Grimes continued to play after the injury Tuesday and logged 32 minutes, providing hope that he could avoid any missed games.
But the 22-year-old wing was ruled out after warmups Wednesday.
“Normally when something like that happens the next day he has to go through the protocols and see where he is and if he needs a day, he’ll get the day. If he doesn’t, he’ll be out there,” Tom Thibodeau said. “I don’t think it’s anything long term.”
Wednesday’s loss underscored the importance of Grimes, whose perimeter defense had re-established the team’s being stingy with points. Grimes filled the hole left by Reggie Bullock, who was the unsung hero of the Knicks run to the 2021 playoffs but left for the Mavericks in the following free agency.
Last season — without Bullock — the defense fell apart.
“Good comparison,” Randle said. “[Grimes] competes. I noticed that last year when he got minutes. He doesn’t try to get out of character and do something he’s not comfortable doing offensively. But I know defensively, he’s going to compete on the ball, he’s going to fight over screens, try to make it tough for the other guy and accept the challenge. You got to love a guy like that.”
With Grimes out, Immanuel Quickley made his first start of the season and shot well until he was blocked on a key possession with 1:15 remaining. Derrick Rose returned to the rotation off the bench but only logged eight minutes as Thibodeau leaned heavily on the starters.
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