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Knicks routed by Raptors as things get testy on court

Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Knicks goes to

Tim Hardaway Jr. of the Knicks goes to the hoop for a basket in the first half against Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden on Mar. 11, 2018 in New York City. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks started two rookies and at times had three players who began the season in the G League on the court together. They ended the game with four rookies and a player on a 10-day contract on the floor.

They were no match for the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors. Toronto buried the Knicks, 132-106, on Sunday afternoon, sending them to their seventh straight defeat, 15th in the last 16 games and 29th in the last 36. The Knicks have won once in the last 40 days.

It was the most points they’ve given up all season, even though Raptors leading scorer DeMar DeRozan scored only nine points and shot 4-for-16.

“They just drove by us,” Jeff Hornacek said. “On the ball was pretty poor. We’ve got to be able to defend guys and stay in front of them.”

Hornacek also got a little feisty about the officiating. He didn’t agree with a foul called on Emmanuel Mudiay when Kyle Lowry attempted a three-pointer with the Knicks down seven in the third quarter. Hornacek picked up the sticky mat by the scorer’s table, then put it down.

“To me, it looked like Kyle landed first,” Hornacek said. “When you fall and flop, these referees, sometimes they fall for that. That was big.”

The Raptors (49-17) rolled from there as the Knicks put up very little resistance. They have given up at least 110 points in 10 of the 12 games they’ve played since losing Kristaps Porzingis to a torn ACL.

The upshot for the Knicks is that there will be plenty of chances for them to see their young players and determine who will be a part of their future. There’s still a month left in the season.

Tim Hardaway Jr. led the Knicks (24-43) with 25 points. He also exchanged words with Lowry and Serge Ibaka in the first half, resulting in technical fouls for all three players.

Undrafted Luke Kornet, a two-way player who splits time in the G League, got his first career start and scored a career-high 18 points for the Knicks, including 13 in the first half. The 7-1 Kornet replaced Enes Kanter, who was a late scratch because of back spasms.

“I’ve gotten better at some stuff but I recognize there’s a long way to go even just from this game,” said Kornet, who shot 3-for-7 from three-point range. “I’ve made some good steps. It’s a long road. I know I still have a long way to go.”

Mudiay added 13 points, Frank Ntilikina 11 and Trey Burke 10.

Jonas Valanciunas had 17 points and nine rebounds in 22 minutes to lead the Raptors, who won for the 15th time in 16 games. Lowry scored 16.

The Knicks trailed only 65-57 at the half but, as usual, fell apart after halftime. Toronto shot 55.8 percent and outscored the Knicks 67-49 in the second half.

Tensions were high at the end of the first half. Lowry and Hardaway jawed with each other before Lowry attempted a free throw with 53 seconds left. Ibaka started to walk toward Hardaway and had to be restrained.

Hardaway hit a jumper over Ibaka with 5.7 seconds left that led to more talking. After the Raptors’ Malcolm Miller hit a three-pointer at the buzzer, Ibaka shouted something in Hardaway’s direction as the Knicks were leaving the court.

“It’s part of the game,” Hardaway said. “It’s nothing major. I’m not going to back down from nobody. I just wanted to get some confidence and get that energy and that fire in the arena and with my teammates.”

New York Sports