Raptors roll to eighth-straight win

Brian Mahoney

NEW YORK–Between an emotional win in their last game and an early start to this one, there were plenty of reasons why the Toronto Raptors might not be sharp.
And a pretty simple reason why they were.
“We just want to hoop, man,” said all-star DeMar DeRozan.
“Every time we get an opportunity to hoop, we’re going out there and doing what we know how to do and that’s to play, whether if it’s an early game, a late game, whatever it may be.
“No matter who we’re playing,” he stressed.
Jonas Valanciunas scored 17 points while Kyle Lowry had 16 as the Raptors kept right on rolling, routing the N.Y. Knicks 132-106 yesterday for their season-high eighth-straight victory.
The Raptors had no letdown after edging the NBA-leading Houston Rockets on Friday night in a matchup of the No. 1 teams in each conference, leading much of the game even with DeRozan shooting just 4-for-16 for nine points.
But seven Raptors finished in double figures in Toronto’s 15th win in 16 games.
The Raptors fell one point shy of their highest total of the season, set in a victory over Cleveland back on Jan. 11.
“They’re playing fantastic basketball right now and they’re continuing with that momentum through this last part of the season,” said Knicks’ forward Tim Hardaway Jr.
“They’re playing playoff basketball.”
Hardaway scored 25 and Luke Kornet had 18 as the Knicks dropped their seventh-straight game and 15th in the last 16.
Coach Dwane Casey talked to the Raptors in the morning about this being a trap game–warning them to forget about their 108-105 victory over Houston and to ignore the Knicks’ record.
But none of that, or the early tip-off, slowed Toronto, which shot 50.5 percent.
“All we can do is keep getting better as a team,” Lowry said.
“We understand that teams are going to come out there and throw their best shots at us, and we’ve got to just maintain.”
The Raptors got a buzzer-beating three-pointer from CJ Miles to lead 32-27 after one quarter, then one from Malcolm Miller at the half to make it 65-57.
And when New York got within seven late in the third quarter, the Raptors closed the period with an 11-2 run to take a 102-86 cushion to the fourth.
Toronto has scored 100 or more points in 19-straight games–one shy of the franchise record set in the 2009-10 season.TIPPING OFF
Both coaches were asked before the game if they were worried about a 1 p.m. start that felt like noon because of the beginning of daylight saving time.
“Those 12 o’clock games, 1 o’clock games, you never know how the players are going to end up coming out,” Hornacek said.
“But we’re pretty young team so I would expect that it would be fine,” he added.
Casey was more concerned it would be a factor.
“No question it does because you’re out of your body rhythm; your rhythm of you’re used to playing at 7, 7:30,” he noted.
“You’re out of your routine, so to speak, so again it becomes a professional approach and a professional game.”
The Raptors next visit Brooklyn tomorrow night.
Elsewhere in the NBA, Minnesota beat Golden State 109-103, Chicago topped Atlanta 129-122, Indiana edged Boston 99-97, and the L.A. Lakers bounced Cleveland 127-113.
Utah beat New Orleans 116-99, Denver bombed Sacramento 130-104, Houston downed Dallas 105-82, and Philadelphia dumped Brooklyn 120-97.