Raptors-Knicks Preview


Linsanity had nearly reached its peak when Jeremy Lin hit a game-winning 3-pointer to defeat the Toronto Raptors last month.

While the hoopla surrounding Lin has since cooled a bit, interim coach Mike Woodson is starting to create a buzz of his own.

After New York's brutal losing stretch, Woodson seems to have the Knicks back on track and will look to stay undefeated when the Raptors visit Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.

Mike D'Antoni resigned two days after the Knicks (21-24) suffered their sixth straight defeat March 12. A change at the top seems to have a made a world of difference for New York, which finds itself 3-0 under Woodson.

After blowing out Portland 121-79 in Woodson's first game Wednesday, the Knicks completed a home-and-home sweep of Indiana with Saturday's 102-88 road win.

"Our hearts are right in it, and it was a total team effort," Woodson said. "I couldn't be more proud of the team than I am (Saturday). I happen to have a great group of guys and a talented bunch. We just have to keep them playing at a high level. If we do that, we have a chance."

Lin had a team-high 19 points to go with seven rebounds and six assists while Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony each scored 16.

"Coach Woodson, he's more of - he's a player's coach," Stoudemire said. "It's a matter of us as players playing hard for him and trying to get these wins.

"We're still looking to make our mark. We're still looking to improve in the playoff standings."

Sitting eighth in the Eastern Conference, the Knicks appear to have a good shot at doing just that if they can keep things going. New York has outscored opponents by an average of 23.7 points during its run while holding teams to just 39.1 percent from the floor.

"I just think it's we have all 15 guys right now on the same page buying in, and that's the biggest thing, is that we're playing together. I don't think there's any major changes philosophically from a coaching standpoint," said Lin, who led the way during New York's seven-game winning streak Feb. 4-15.

Lin came up especially big during win No. 6 of that run, posting 27 points and 11 assists while hitting a 3-pointer with less than a second left to defeat the Raptors 90-87 on Feb. 14.

Toronto (15-30) dropped to 2-2 on its five-game road swing with Saturday's 107-103 loss to Charlotte. Jerryd Bayless continued his impressive play with 29 points, but after building a 10-point halftime lead the Raptors were outscored 38-14 in the third quarter and couldn't recover.

"As much as it's a learning curve for us, I don't think there's any excuses," center Jamaal Magloire said. "This is a game that we could have very easily won, no matter what the circumstances are. I'm more or less speechless about what happened (Saturday) to us and very disappointed."

Bayless, who has missed both meetings with New York this season due to injury, has averaged 21.8 points on 54.3 percent shooting while starting each of the last five games for injured point guard Jose Calderon (sprained right ankle).

Bayless, however, may have to continue his scoring surge off the bench. Calderon, who has averaged 17.0 points and 10.5 assists against the Knicks this season, is expected to return and start Tuesday.

The Raptors have dropped five of six in this series, with their only win coming 90-85 at MSG on Jan. 2. Andrea Bargnani scored 21 points in that matchup but averaged just 12.8 on 35.6 percent shooting in his first six games back after missing nearly two months with a calf injury.