Knicks 90, Raptors 79
NEW YORK (AP)—Lenny Wilkens is undefeated in his new job thanks to a victory over the team that fired him last spring.
Playing their annual Martin Luther King Day matinee, the Knicks improved to 3-0 under Wilkens by defeating the team he coached the past three seasons.
“It’s been a whirlwind,” said Wilkens, who took over after Don Chaney was fired Wednesday. “I’ve been so busy. I haven’t even had a chance to unpack my bags.”
Wilkens said he took no extra satisfaction from defeating Toronto, which was short-handed because Vince Carter missed his second consecutive game with a strained right quadriceps.
“That man is undefeated right now. He’s the winningest coach in the league, and his record speaks for itself,” Williams said. “He did a great job for us, getting us in the playoffs two out of three years. Last year was a big fluke.”
Wilkens is now trying to get the Knicks into the postseason, and they’re inching closer to where they need to be.
The winning streak, which ties the Knicks’ longest of the season, has moved New York into a virtual tie with Philadelphia for eighth place in the Eastern Conference—the cutoff for qualifying for the postseason.
“You can sense that the Garden is definitely a different place than it’s been the past two or three years. You can sense that even though we’re not in the playoffs right now, everybody knows or believes that we eventually will be,” Allan Houston said. “They’re coming to see a playoff team. It’s our job to make that happen.”
Marbury scored 13 in the third quarter, when the Knicks took the lead for good, then added 11 more in the fourth.
The Knicks took control with a 13-0 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to go ahead 75-61. The Raptors pulled to 84-78 on a three-point play by Peterson with 1:43 remaining, but Kurt Thomas rebounded a missed 3-pointer by Marbury, then took a pass from Marbury and hit an 18-foot jumper with 1:07 remaining.
Marbury’s two free throws with 41 seconds left gave New York a 10-point lead.
Houston scored 17, and Kurt Thomas had 16 to help make up for a rare unproductive game from Keith Van Horn, who shot 1-for-9 and scored four points. Van Horn was averaging 21.6 points on 54 percent shooting over the previous 14 games.
“Keith and Allan, they really didn’t have it going. So in the second half I pretty much tried to take it upon myself to get guys involved and look for my shot a little bit more,” Marbury said.
The Raptors are considering signing veteran forward Charles Oakley. … Wilkens went 113-133 with the Raptors. … Carter is listed as day-to-day. … The Raptors failed to reach 100 points for the 13th straight game. The last time they did it was Dec. 19 in an overtime victory over the Knicks. … The Knicks failed to reach 100 points for the first time in five games. … Raptorsguard Roger Mason made his first two shots and missed his next seven.