There was a lot of buzz about the backcourt Monday night during the Knicks’ 122-95 loss to the Raptors at Madison Square Garden.
On one level, that made a lot of sense, given that the Raptors have the most devastating backcourt in the Eastern Conference in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Both are the type of All-Stars that Knicks fans can only dream about as they watch their starting guards struggle in game after game.
Yet it wasn’t Lowry and DeRozan whose names the fans were calling out. Rather, they were chanting for Jimmer Fredette, the guard the Knicks called up from their Westchester D-League team Monday morning and gave a 10-day contract.
Fredette did see some action in garbage time — entering the game with 1:49 remaining — and brought the fans to their feet when he hit a wide-open three-pointer just seconds after stepping onto the floor.
The Knicks guards who played when it really counted didn’t give fans a lot to cheer about, though, and had a predictably tough time dealing with the Raptors’ All-Star backcourt.
Lowry had his first triple-double of the season with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. DeRozan scored 22 points and became the winningest player in Raptors history.
And the Knicks’ starting guards? Jose Calderon went scoreless and shot 0-for-2. Arron Afflalo had seven points and shot 3-for-11.
The Knicks were led by Carmelo Anthony’s 23 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Robin Lopez added 21 points and 13 rebounds and Kristaps Porzingis had 17 points.
A win would have given the Knicks (24-34) their first back-to-back victories in more than a month. Instead, they have lost eight of their last nine games and 12 of their last 14 and have one win in four games under interim coach Kurt Rambis.
The Raptors (37-18) are in second place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind the Cavaliers, who lost to the Pistons.
Toronto outscored the Knicks 60-40 in the middle two quarters and put seven players in double figures.“Our defense wasn’t very good,” Rambis said. “I think they pretty much went through about everything we did poorly.”
The Knicks have had plenty of difficult losses this season, but this one seemed to really bother Anthony. Maybe that’s because it was the day after the five-year anniversary of his trade from Denver. Or maybe it’s just the pain of seeing the losses pile up. Whatever the case, Anthony, who usually takes his time getting out of the locker room, was dressed and ready to go when reporters entered.
“I need to go home and decompress and relax,” he said. “Just losing. It’s hard to accept that. Losing basketball games.”
A reporter mentioned to Anthony that he has had four coaches and 70 different teammates as a Knick. “That’s a lot to go through,” he said. “It’s challenging. It’s challenging.”
Anthony was asked if he thought some of his teammates were not all that upset about losing. “I don’t want to speak for everybody else,” he said. “I hope it’s not the case where guys are getting used to losing. You don’t want to get used to it, because that mentality seeps into the game.”
Porzingis, who has been here only this season, also seemed frustrated. “To be at this point right now, it’s hard on everybody, coaches and us,” he said. “We’re all trying to do our best, but it’s just not working.”