TORONTO -- The Knicks ended the 2013 portion of their schedule in a fitting way, with a maddening, half-hearted performance in which effort was a problem and defending was an afterthought.
Different night, same result. They closed out 2013 on a three-game losing streak, falling to the Toronto Raptors, 115-100, Saturday night at Air Canada Centre.
The Knicks (9-21) were without Carmelo Anthony for the third straight game because of a sprained left ankle, but that was no excuse to be down by 21 points in the third quarter.
These are the Raptors, not the Heat or Pacers. And this was a home-and-home with Toronto that Mike Woodson believed would begin the Knicks' climb back toward respectability. Instead, they dropped both by a total of 27 points, fell five games behind first-place Toronto (13-15) and continue to talk about needing to play with effort.
"You should play that way each and every night you put on the uniform," Kenyon Martin said. "If everybody had that mentality each and every night, we'd be all right. But we're on this roller-coaster thing that we don't play consistently every night, and our record shows."
The Knicks, who don't play again until Thursday at San Antonio, missed countless assignments defensively, again were beaten on the boards and showed bad body language throughout the game. They also let the Raptors shoot 15-for-32 from three-point range.
Amar'e Stoudemire led a late run that brought the Knicks within six with 3:35 left, but the Knicks gave up a five-point possession to Kyle Lowry on Toronto's next trip.
"I liked the way we fought," said Woodson, who looked furious, and understandably so, during different stages of the game.
Lowry, whom the Knicks have tried to acquire, flirted with a triple-double, finishing with 32 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and one turnover. Terrence Ross, who shot 7-for-11 from three-point range, had 23 points and DeMar DeRozan scored 20.
Those three lit up the Knicks' starting wing and perimeter players, outscoring J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Beno Udrih 75-24, including 38-2 in the first half. In the second half, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Toure' Murry played more than Udrih and Shumpert. Andrea Bargnani and Udrih didn't play in the fourth quarter.
"At this stage right now, I'm about guys that are going to play hard," Woodson said.
Stoudemire scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half and grabbed nine rebounds. Tyson Chandler added 16 points but had only two rebounds. Smith had 13 points and Hardaway and former Raptor Bargnani, who made his first regular-season trip back to Toronto, scored 12 each.
After the Knicks went ahead 34-32, Toronto had runs of 15-2 and 16-4 en route to taking a 78-57 lead. The Knicks cut that 21-point deficit to 101-93 on Stoudemire's slam with 4:11 left, and Chandler's dunk brought the Knicks within 101-95.
But on the ensuing trip, Murry fell guarding Lowry as he brought the ball up and swung his arm back at him, hitting Lowry in the groin area and picking up a flagrant foul. Lowry made both free throws and then drilled a three-pointer to give Toronto a 106-95 lead with 3:14 left.
DeRozan's three-point play made it 109-96 with 1:32 to go.
"We're not going to win consistently until we defend and rebound the ball," Woodson said. "I got to have our bigs in there banging a little bit more and demanding rebounds. I mean, they can't play the minutes that they play and not dominate the boards."
Bargnani, the Raptors' No. 1 overall pick in 2006, was booed loudly during introductions, and it continued throughout the game whenever he got the ball. He expected it. Bargnani was booed often during his last season in Toronto.
"It's not the first time I've been booed," he said. "It's not the last time. I've been playing in Europe since I was 13. It's not just about the boos. It's about your life. Of course you hear them, but like I say, it's not the first time, it's not the last time. I've been playing a long time, especially in Europe."
Bargnani came out shooting and hit his first three attempts, but he was 1-for-5 the rest of the half with three fouls. The third came after he gave up an offensive rebound, which Raptors fans have seen plenty of over the years.