The New York Knicks visit the Toronto Raptors on Friday in a game between teams coming off disappointing losses.
The Knicks lost 122-102 to the Indiana Pacers at Indianapolis on Wednesday.
“Just having the necessary energy at the start of the game … that’s probably the biggest thing (that was missing),” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Just our defense. They’re a good team. I thought we scored, but we didn’t guard.
“So it just takes one guy and we knew it would be a challenge because of where we were in our schedule. But we’ve got to meet that challenge. We have to find a way to get it done.”
The Knicks have lost four of their past five and have split the first two contests of a three-game road trip.
The loss to the Pacers followed a 121-109 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday.
“You could find an excuse every night if you want to,” Thibodeau said. “Early start time, late start time, travel, back-to-back, whatever it might be. The schedule, at the end of the day, we all play 82, so sometimes it’s going in your favor and sometimes it’s not.”
Nerlens Noel (sore back) was a late scratch for the Knicks on Wednesday.
The Raptors lost 110-109 on Wednesday to the Oklahoma City Thunder, dropping their home record to 4-9 despite wins in their two previous games in Canada.
The Raptors will be playing the sixth of seven straight home games on Friday.
“You’ve got to show up to work and do your job every day,” said Toronto’s Fred VanVleet, who scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter on Wednesday. “It’s not about box score stats, it’s not about scoring, it’s not about awards, it’s not about individual accolades or individual plays.
“It’s about winning ball games and doing things the right way and we just can’t seem to sustain that long enough to win against teams we must think we’re better than. It doesn’t work like that in the NBA because they were the better team tonight.”
Toronto led by 64-54 at halftime before being outscored 33-12 in the third quarter.
Still, the Raptors had a 109-107 lead after rookie Justin Champagnie made a layup with 18 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Mike Muscala gave the Thunder the lead for good on a 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds left.
VanVleet missed a layup in the final seconds, but Champagnie tipped in the rebound as time expired. A video review determined that his fingers were still on the ball when time expired, so the basket was waved off.
Champagnie has not played much this season, but coach Nick Nurse decided to give him a look.
“I didn’t like any of the other (options),” Nurse said. “The other guys were soft and unenergetic and not playing their role.”
Toronto was without OG Anunoby (hip pointer), Khem Birch (knee) and Precious Achiuwa (shoulder) on Wednesday.
The Raptors did not practice Thursday because of COVID-19 concerns, citing an “abundance of caution.”
It is the first time the team has stopped a scheduled workout and is due to “health and safety protocols” an announcement on social media said.
The Raptors say all members of the organization are fully vaccinated and they have not had a positive COVID-19 test since the first day of training camp when Birch and his family went into isolation.
–Field Level Media