Raptors Takeaways: VanVleet, Barnes shine in OT win over Knicks

Game coverage - recap

The Toronto Raptors have no option: if they have hopes of being anything other than a play-in team – and even that – they need to be good on the road and they need to do it soon.

They needed to do it against the New York Knicks, who are sixth in the East, on Monday. They found a way in a very challenging, competitive matchup at Madison Square Garden, emerging with an essential 123-121 win in overtime.

Some takeaways:

Raptors find some energy

There were some interesting comments from Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on Sunday as the Raptors practised prior to leaving for their Martin Luther King Day matinee, the first of three road games this week for the Raptors, opening a stretch of 10-of-12 away from home.

In speaking about how his team has allowed its offensive struggles to feed into their defence at times, Nurse said: “we have a bunch of accountability factors that we look at and take into consideration [when examining effort and energy] but even some of those you can score very high on and not have the greatest energy in the world. I think the energy vibe is certainly off, no doubt about it.”

It’s one of the comments that could mean anything, honestly. Is his team sulking? Sniping? Ready to pack it in? Or just frustrated with losing and missing loads of shots all season long, and of course, one can lead to the other.

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-888541” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775574112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775574112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775574112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-888541” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: true,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6318775574112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/6318775574112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/raptors-anunoby-hits-massive-three-to-extend-lead-over-knicks-in-ot/”
});
});

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-618541” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775574112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775574112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775574112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-618541” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: false,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6318775574112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/6318775574112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/raptors-anunoby-hits-massive-three-to-extend-lead-over-knicks-in-ot/”
});
});

.acf-block-preview .br-video-thumbnail::before {
content: “”;
position: absolute;
top: 45%;
left: 50%;
transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-moz-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-ms-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-o-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-webkit-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
width: 20px;
height: 0px;
border-top: 14px solid transparent;
border-left: 22px solid #fff;
border-bottom: 14px solid transparent;
margin-left: 3px;
}

The Raptors didn’t seem to have any energy or effort problems against the Knicks. They battled defensively, fought on the glass, and shared the ball well.

I’m of the opinion that the math is too daunting for the Raptors – in 11th place and 4.5 games behind the sixth-place Knicks even after the win — to have a realistic chance of anything but a spot in the play-in tournament.

If 46 wins is the number required, Toronto (20-24) would have to go 26-12 from here, and do that while playing 23 of 38 on the road. But efforts like they had Monday are why it’s hard to write the Raptors off entirely.

Fred VanVleet vs. the Knicks’ $100 million man

It hasn’t been the best season or the best stretch of basketball for Fred VanVleet.

That the Raptors veteran point guard and 2021-22 all-star has been struggling to find his shooting stroke (a career-low 32.5 per cent from three) is hardly news, and between a balky back and a few bouts with the flu, he’s missed eight games.

He was questionable for Monday’s game with back soreness after working through a tough game on both ends in the Raptors’ loss to Atlanta on Saturday, where VanVleet was 1-of-9 from the floor and struggled defensively against Hawks guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

In that context, VanVleet’s match-up with the Knicks J’alen Brunson was fascinating. The two guards are of a similar size and acumen, though Brunson has always been a better finisher (70.3 from inside three feet for his career, compared to VanVleet (.551).

.acf-block-preview .br-snippet {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: 200px 1fr;
gap: 20px;
width: 100%;
margin: 0 auto;
padding: 16px;
border: 1px solid #CECECE;
background-color: #FFF;
border-radius: 4px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info a {
text-decoration: none;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-title {
color: #343434;
font-family: ‘roboto’;
font-size: 20px;
font-weight: 600;
line-height: 22px;
margin-bottom: 10px;
top: -3px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-body {
color: #343434;
font-family: ‘urw-din’;
font-size: 16px;
line-height: 20px;
margin-bottom: 12px;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-link-title {
display: inline-block;
font-family: ‘urw-din’;
font-size: 16px;
list-style-type: none;
width: auto;
}
.acf-block-preview .br-snippet-info .br-snippet-link-title:not(:last-child):after {
content: ‘ | ‘;
color: #343434;
}

Brunson signed this past summer with the Knicks for $104 million over four years, while VanVleet, coming off a career year and with a chance to test free agency next summer, wasn’t in a hurry to sign an extension with the Raptors, who could only offer three years and $89 million or four years and $114 million.

VanVleet told ESPN.com recently that he believed he’s outplayed the value of the extension he can earn on his current deal (which is limited to a 20 per cent raise) — and at his best he probably has. But Brunson – two years younger than VanVleet — is showing what kind of value a smaller guard provide for $26 million a year, with a season that could well find him making his all-star debut.

However, VanVleet won the day on Monday. He finished with 33 points and eight assists and was instrumental as the Raptors came back from down 10 with nine minutes left and hit a massive three with two minutes left to keep it going.

Meanwhile, the Raptors started crowding Brunson on his drives and trapping him where they could, limiting him to 2-of-9 shooting and five points in the fourth quarter and overtime along with a pair of costly turnovers. He finished with 26 points and two assists on 11-of-29 shooting.

Brunson had been averaging 32 points on 52 per cent shooting in his first seven games of 2023, leading the Knicks to six wins in that stretch.

Barnes bringing it

For all the questions and drama that Scottie Barnes’ slow start to his second season has inspired, give the second-year wing credit where it’s due: he’s playing some of the best basketball of his career lately.

He morphed into the world’s biggest and most physical point guard down the stretch as he took over the Raptors offence, forcing his way to the paint, finding open teammates and beasting on the glass to hoover up their misses when needed.

Barnes scored 17 of his 26 points in the second half, 13 in the fourth quarter and overtime and was six-of-seven from the line.

He wasn’t perfect. After missing a free throw with 6.6 seconds left that would have put the Raptors up three in the fourth, he failed to contain RJ Barrett in the full court – crucially letting the Canadian get to his left hand – as the Knicks wing took in the length of the floor to send it into overtime with a resounding dunk.

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-526586” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775273112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775273112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775273112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-526586” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: true,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6318775273112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/6318775273112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/knicks-barrett-slams-dazzling-coast-to-coast-dunk-to-force-overtime-vs-raptors/”
});
});

var adServerUrl = “”;
var $el = $( “#video_container-220672” );
var permalink = $el.closest(‘.snet-single-article’).data(‘permalink’);

/*
if ( “1” == true && ‘undefined’ !== typeof window.getIndexAds ) {
var so = {preroll:{1:{1:{siteID:191888},2:{siteID:191889}}}};
adServerUrl = window.getIndexAds( ‘http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775273112&cmsid=384’, so, permalink);
} else {
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775273112&cmsid=384”;
}
*/
adServerUrl = “http://pubads.g.doubleclick.net/gampad/ads?sz=640×360&cust_params=domain%3Dsportsnet.ca&iu=%2F7326%2Fen.sportsnet.web%2FVideo&ciu_szs=300×250&impl=s&gdfp_req=1&env=vp&output=vast&unviewed_position_start=1&ad_rule=1&vid=6318775273112&cmsid=384”;
var adServerUrl_result = adServerUrl.includes(“cust_params”);
var queryString=”;
if(adServerUrl_result){
var gettheDUFI = localStorage.getItem(“theRED_loc”)

if(gettheDUFI){
queryString += “dufiid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
queryString += “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
var ppid = “ppid=” + gettheDUFI + ‘&’;
}

var DUFI_IP = sessionStorage.getItem(“DUFI_IP”)

if(DUFI_IP){
queryString += “dufiip=” + DUFI_IP + ‘&’;
}

adServerUrl = adServerUrl.replace(/cust_params=/, ppid + ‘cust_params=” + encodeURIComponent(queryString) );
}

$el.after( unescape(“%3Cscript src=\”” + (document.location.protocol == “https:” ? “https://sb” : “http://b”) + “.scorecardresearch.com/beacon.js\” %3E%3C/script%3E”) );

$( document ).one( “ready’, function() {
$( “#video_container-220672” ).SNPlayer( {
bc_account_id: “1704050871”,
bc_player_id: “JCdte3tMv”,
//autoplay: false,
//is_has_autoplay_switch: false,
bc_videos: 6318775273112,
is_has_continuous_play: “false”,
adserverurl: adServerUrl,
section: “”,
thumbnail: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/6318775273112-1024×576.jpg”,
direct_url: “https://www.sportsnet.ca/nba/video/knicks-barrett-slams-dazzling-coast-to-coast-dunk-to-force-overtime-vs-raptors/”
});
});

.acf-block-preview .br-video-thumbnail::before {
content: “”;
position: absolute;
top: 45%;
left: 50%;
transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-moz-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-ms-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-o-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
-webkit-transform: translate3d(-50%, -50%, 0);
width: 20px;
height: 0px;
border-top: 14px solid transparent;
border-left: 22px solid #fff;
border-bottom: 14px solid transparent;
margin-left: 3px;
}

There were some other issues containing the ball against Julius Randle earlier in the game too, but overall, more performances like this earlier in the season would have avoided a lot of questions about Barnes, who is averaging 20.6 points, 8.0 rebounds 5.2 assists on 54 per cent shooting over his last five games — in which the Raptors are 4-1.

Barrett shining in the Big Apple

The game-tying dunk wasn’t the only big play Barrett made on Monday.

The Canadian guard finished with 32 points and seven rebounds and helped drive the Knicks offence down the stretch. He led New York with 12 points in the fourth quarter and overtime and shook off an ice-cold start in doing so.

Barrett was 3-of-11 from the floor in the first half but didn’t let that hold him back from scoring 22 in the second half, often using his size and strength to attack mismatches against Raptors guards.

Playing in New York isn’t for everyone but one reason that Barrett is so well suited for it is that he doesn’t get too far into his own head. Time and again, he’s shaken off tough moments and played through it with a resilience that is crucial to thriving in New York. His performance Monday was a great example of that.

Raptors bench, and Achiuwa at the line

The Raptors bench has been an issue for most of the season, but less so lately.

Minutes were tough to come by Monday as Nurse relied on his starters in the fourth quarter and overtime – they all played at least 40 minutes – but there were still some key bench moments.

The combination of Precious Achiuwa and Chris Boucher has been a part of that. Boucher had a great sequence midway through the second quarter when he blocked Knicks centre Isaiah Hartenstein at the rim at one end and sprinted the floor to rebound a fastbreak miss by Juancho Hernangomez and score on the putback.

The Canadian also squared up and hit a three – something he’s been struggling with over the year, though he came into Monday shooting 55.6 per cent from deep over his last five games.

Meanwhile, Achiuwa had scored in double figures off the bench in his previous three games as he continues to find his form after missing 24 games with his ankle injury. He finished with eight on Monday.

A nice bonus from Achiuwa has been some improved precision form the free-throw line. Achiuwa was a 55.6 per cent free-throw shooter coming into the season but has been 79 per cent so far this year and was 4-of-4 in the first half against the Knicks.

It’s not a make-or-break stat but progress a by free-throw shooter is often a sign of improving overall shooting, which could prove to be a separating skill for Achiuwa as he develops.

Both Boucher and Achiuwa were on the floor to help the Raptors build a 10-point lead midway through the second quarter. But with Boucher and Achiuwa back on the bench, the Raptors starters surrendered a 22-6 run that allowed New York to take a 59-56 lead into the half.

Achiuwa had some nice moments in the second half too, with a lovely finish in traffic on a feed from VanVleet and some excellent defence on Randle.

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper {
display: grid;
grid-template-columns: repeat(2, 1fr);
gap: 20px;
}

.acf-block-preview .br-related-links-wrapper a {
pointer-events: none;
cursor: default;
text-decoration: none;
color: black;
}

Leave a Reply