TORONTO - The troubling thing about getting new players at the trade deadline is that most of the time, they don't come broken in. The Knicks unveiled yet another new lineup yesterday with the additions of Larry Hughes and Chris Wilcox, and the result was a 111-100 loss to the Raptors in a noon matinee at Air Canada Centre.
The new wrinkle left Mike D'Antoni with plenty to iron out, as Hughes struggled with his shot (1-for-9) and Wilcox looked lost in the offense. D'Antoni also spent the game tinkering with the rotation, which is never a good thing when a team is battling for position in a playoff race.
"We're going to need some time to work them in," Chris Duhon said. "The bad thing about it is we don't have time."
There are 27 games left going into tonight against the Pacers at the Garden, and the 11th-place Knicks (23-32) are three games behind the Bucks for the eighth and final berth in the East. It will help that the Pacers will be without All-Star Danny Granger and Mike Dunleavy.
The Raptors (22-36) were without heart when the Knicks blew them out Friday at the Garden, 127-97, but they brought it yesterday in the second game of this home-and-home.
Anthony Parker hustled for 24 points and Andrea Bargnani was far more effective with 28 points and 10 rebounds. He was one of four Raptors with a double-double in the game, along with Shawn Marion (16 points, 15 rebounds), Chris Bosh (11 points, 12 rebounds) and Jose Calderon (13 points, 11 assists).
Al Harrington led the Knicks with 31 points and David Lee had 17 points and 15 rebounds for his 19th straight double-double and league-leading 44th of the season. Nate Robinson, after four games in which he totaled 121 points, had 18 points and eight assists off the bench. Duhon had 17 points and seven assists but committed five of his six turnovers in a sloppy first quarter.
Bargnani hit a big three-pointer with 1:42 left to give Toronto a 107-98 lead. Duhon had a good look from the foul line on the previous possession that could have brought the Knicks within four but missed.
But D'Antoni wouldn't point to the shooting woes (42.9 percent) or the new faces to work into the lineup as much as a stretch in the third quarter when Parker outworked the entire Knicks lineup to give the Raptors an eight-point lead going into the fourth.
The 5-9 Robinson caught Parker sleeping on defense and went back door for an electrifying alley-oop dunk, but it seemed to serve as a wake-up call. Parker immediately answered with a fast-break layup and scored 11 of Toronto's final 15 points of the quarter in a 41/2-minute span.
But there was an undeniable synchronicity problem with the rotation throughout the game, especially one stretch in the second quarter in which D'Antoni had Hughes and Wilcox on the floor at the same time. With two-fifths of the lineup brand new to the system, the Knicks gave up a 12-0 run in the first 2:07 of the quarter that put them down 39-27. Hughes and Wilcox also were on the floor together when Parker went on his tear.
"You just can't leave David out there the whole time. He was getting tired, and Larry just got in, so you have to play them together," D'Antoni said. "It's probably a pipe dream. But we'll figure that out."
Hughes didn't do much to endear himself to Knicks fans, already wary of his reputation for taking bad shots. But it had been more than a month since he last played in a game (seven minutes Jan. 12 with the Bulls).
"I know with some practices and some games, the legs will come around," Hughes said.
Wilcox finished with five points and five rebounds and was active around the basket, but he needs to learn quickly that this system demands not only activity on the offensive end but a concerted effort in running back on defense.
"We definitely feel the pressure, but at the same time, we just have to go out there and play basketball and have fun," Wilcox said. "We've got to help the guys that have already been here keep doing what they're doing."