Toronto (30-41) at New York (33-39)

Partly Cloudy Currently: Las Vegas, NV
Temp: 111° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Mar 26, 2004
  • TV: MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Though their recent play suggests otherwise, the New York Knicks and Toronto Raptors are right in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The Knicks and Raptors will look to continue their push for a postseason berth when they meet for the fourth and final time this season.

The Knicks are in seventh place in the conference, but are just one game up on Cleveland. The Raptors, meanwhile, are 1 1/2 games behind the Cavs in 10th place.

Both teams are coming into this contest struggling following losses on Wednesday.

New York was routed 111-97 at home by Memphis for its second defeat in three games, while Toronto fell 90-89 in overtime on the road to Houston for its third loss in four games.

The Knicks continued to play without injured starters Allan Houston (quadriceps) and Tim Thomas (groin), who are averaging a combined 33.2 points per game. Penny Hardaway, starting in place of Thomas, is also slowed by a sore groin.

Dikembe Mutombo, who has started 56 games at center this season, is on the injured list after having abdominal surgery and reserve point guard Frank Williams is also out with a groin injury.

Having players hurt, however, is not an excuse for the Knicks.

“We can’t worry about injuries,” center Nazr Mohammed said. “We just have to go out and win. Each team is playing hurt. No one is going to feel sorry for us.

“Our destiny is in our hands. If we win games we are in the playoffs. We can’t look at other teams, because that is when you will get in trouble. We just have to win games.”

On Wednesday, Toronto came back from a 60-48 deficit with 4:29 left in the third quarter to force overtime, but ended up losing its second straight.

“It was a tough game to lose and they just wouldn’t let us take it from them,” Raptors guard Jalen Rose said. “We’ve got to play with a sense of urgency. We really want to get into the playoffs.”

New York has won six straight over Toronto at Madison Square Garden, including a 90-79 victory on Jan. 19.

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