The Knicks’ season-opening 98-93 win against the Toronto Raptors offered a view of what the NBA’s fifth-youngest team might exhibit this year: Early fireworks, followed by youthful inconsistency.
But as long as Amare Stoudemire is there to take control at the end, they might just survive their share of close contests. Stoudemire scored seven straight points for the Knicks in his debut, his run interrupted only by Andrea Barngnani’s free throw, to stretch an 89-87 fourth-quarter lead to 96-88 with 1:53 remaining in the game.
Although Stoudemire will be relied upon as a settling influence and the Knicks’ undisputed leader, he still turned the ball over twice during a three-minute scoring drought to let the Raptors get back to within three. But Leandro Barbosa missed a three-point shot with three seconds to go, and Raymond Felton’s field goal with 2.4 seconds remaining put the lead out of reach at 5.
Stoudemire finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds to go with nine turnovers, but the Knicks also put five others in double figures, including Chandler, who scored 22 points off the bench.
The Knicks had a 16-point lead in the second quarter thanks to a 10-point run. But turnovers and the Knicks’ shabby rebounding allowed the Raptors to climb back and eventually take a slim, 46-45 lead on DeMar DeRozan’s two free throws.