TORONTO (AP)—They went out with a win, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Toronto Raptors from sliding out of the NBA playoffs.
DeMar DeRozan(notes) scored a career-high 24 points and the Raptors beat the New York Knicks 131-113 on Wednesday night, a victory that became meaningless when Chicago won at Charlotte to clinch the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.
“We did what we were supposed to do and we didn’t get any help,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said.
Andrea Bargnani(notes) also scored 24 for the Raptors, who finished 40-42, a game behind the Bulls. Toronto owned the tiebreaker and would have earned the No. 8 seed had the teams finished with the same record.
“It hurts,” Toronto guard Jarrett Jack(notes) said. “There’s really no other way to put it. We had opportunities, we controlled our destiny as far as the postseason was concerned, and we let that slip through our fingers.”
Toronto’s coaches and players looked in on the Bulls game at halftime but found the Bobcats trailing by 14.
“You could see that Charlotte was playing restricted minutes for most of their guys,” Triano said. “You kind of knew it wasn’t going to get too much closer.”
Just over a minute remained in that game by the time the Raptors finished off the Knicks and returned to their locker room, but the Bulls still led by double digits.
“It’s very disappointing,” DeRozan said. “We laid everything on the line. You can’t take away from Chicago. They did the same thing and they got the better end of the stick.”
Toronto was 29-23 and fifth in the East after beating Philadelphia on Feb. 10. But the Raptors lost 11 of 15 following the All-Star break, losing Chris Bosh(notes) for seven games when he sprained his left ankle.
Another five-game skid late in the season, one that ended with a 104-88 home loss to the Bulls on Sunday, all but sealed Toronto’s fate.
“You can’t be complacent,” Jack said. “We kind of got comfortable a little bit in our position and in this league you can’t do that. There’s always another team that’s gaining ground. You’ve got to understand that teams typically play their best basketball right after the All-Star break and they’re going to make a run. That’s pretty much what happened.”
Bill Walker(notes) scored a career-high 28 points and Danilo Gallinari(notes) added 22 as the Knicks wrapped up their third straight 50-loss season and their sixth year in a row without a postseason berth.
“I’m relieved to have the season over,” New York’s David Lee(notes) said. “We’ve known for a little while that we’re not going to make the playoffs. We tried to finish out the right way but today was not our best effort, especially defensively.”
Lee had 19 points and 11 rebounds in what could be his final game with New York. The Knicks plan to be active in free agency, and it’s not known if retaining Lee is a priority since the team will be able to afford two top-level players.
“It’s going to be a very interesting offseason in the whole NBA, not just in New York,” Lee said. “A lot of teams have cap space and a lot of teams are looking to make changes.”
The Knicks, for some time now, have targeted this summer as an opportunity to spend big in an effort to revive the team.
“That’s what it’s kind of set up for and that’s what we’re looking for,” coach Mike D’Antoni said. “If it works, we’ll be the happiest people in the world. If not, then c’est la vie and we have to do what we can do.”
Bosh took a seat on the Toronto bench midway through the opening quarter, his first appearance since suffering two facial fractures in an April 6 game at Cleveland and undergoing nasal surgery. Asked about Bosh’s status before the game, Triano said, “I don’t think there’s anything in the next week for him.”
Bosh was not on Toronto’s bench in the third quarter, but returned for the fourth. It could have been his last time on the Raptors’ side, since he can become one of the most attractive free agents available in July.
Jack, who played with Bosh at Georgia Tech, said the two will likely sit down soon to discuss the future.
“We’ll go back and forth and I’m sure we’re going to discuss the pros and cons of staying and leaving,” Jack said. “I’m going to let him know that if he wants to come back, we’ll definitely accept him with open arms.”
Toronto led 29-19 with 2:41 left in the first, but Walker and Gallinari each made 3-pointers as the Knicks cut it to 33-30 after one.
The Raptors opened the second with an 11-4 run, pushing their lead back to 10 points at 44-34 and forcing the Knicks to call timeout. Johnson scored 11 in the second as Toronto maintained a double digit edge for much of the quarter, but a 3-pointer by Toney Douglas(notes) made it 73-64 at the half.
DeRozan scored 11 points in the third and Calderon added nine as the Raptors took a 105-94 lead into the fourth.
NOTES: DeRozan matched his career high with nine rebounds. … Weems started for Toronto despite leaving Monday’s win at Detroit with a sore right ankle. … The Knicks shot 15 for 33 from 3-point range.