Toronto (21-35) at New York (22-31)

Mostly Cloudy Currently: Las Vegas, NV
Temp: 96° F
  • Game info: 7:30 pm EST Fri Feb 20, 2009
  • TV: TSNT, MSG
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The New York Knicks are looking to return to the playoffs for the first time in five years. A couple of trading-deadline deals may help achieve that.

On Friday night, the retooled Knicks open a home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden against the Toronto Raptors, who may have leading scorer and rebounder Chris Bosh back in the lineup.

New York (22-31) has averaged 28 wins since its last playoff appearance in 2004. Team president Donnie Walsh on Thursday was busy bolstering his team’s chances of returning to the postseason, sending Tim Thomas, Jerome James and Anthony Roberson to Chicago for Larry Hughes, and acquiring Chris Wilcox from Oklahoma City for Malik Rose.

Stephon Marbury—inactive all season despite a salary of nearly $22 million — remained on the roster.

The Knicks only would take back players whose contracts that expire before the summer of 2010, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Bosh may lead a vaunted free-agent class.

Wilcox was averaging 8.4 points and 5.3 rebounds in 37 games with the Thunder. Hughes, averaging 12.0 points in 30 games, was disgruntled in Chicago as he hasn’t played since Jan. 12 and even watched one game from a club restaurant.

It’s not known if the new acquisitions will be available to face Toronto (21-35), but New York coach Mike D’Antoni told the Knicks’ official Web site that he likes what Walsh has brought in.

“Chris is a gifted athletic big man that brings toughness and solidifies our interior defense,” he said. “Larry fits nicely in our backcourt. He is extremely athletic and a tough defender with a solid overall game.”

New York begins play in 11th place in the Eastern Conference, three games behind eighth-place Milwaukee.

The Knicks snapped a six-game losing streak with a 112-107 overtime win over San Antonio on Tuesday behind 32 points from reigning slam-dunk champion Nate Robinson.

Though he’s averaging 16.4 points this season, the 5-foot-9 guard has scored 31.7 in his last three games. He averaged 16.7 points in three games against Toronto last season.

According to the Raptors’ official Web site, Bosh, who is scoring 22.7 points and pulling down 9.5 rebounds per game, expects to return after missing last five games with a sprained right knee.

Toronto could have used him on Wednesday in a 93-76 loss to Cleveland. After averaging 100.5 points in two wins before the All-Star break, the Raptors were held below 77 for the third time this season. They also shot 36.5 percent from the field and were outrebounded 48-32.

Shawn Marion, in his first game with Toronto after being acquired from Miami last Friday, had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists. Marcus Banks, also part of the deal that sent Jermaine O’Neal and Jamario Moon to the Heat, had four points off the bench.

“We have had a couple of practices and they are trying to learn the plays on the fly, with guys on the floor directing them where to go and me yelling from the sideline where they are supposed to be,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said.

The Raptors have won 11 of the last 14 meetings overall with Bosh averaging 27.9 points and 8.7 rebounds in his last seven games at MSG. The teams will meet again on Sunday in Toronto, where the Raptors have won eight straight over New York.

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Friday, Feb 20