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Knicks blow another late lead in overtime loss to Raptors

Add it to the painful list. 

Right with the blown leads to the Bucks, Bulls, Hawks and Thunder. 

For the second time in less than a month, the struggling Raptors came to the Garden and cooled off the red-hot Knicks, rallying from 10 down in the fourth quarter. Even RJ Barrett’s dunk at the end of the regulation couldn’t save the Knicks. 

They were manhandled for the bulk of the extra session, and fell to the Raptors, 123-121, at the Garden, as their strange home woes continued. With the loss, the Knicks (25-20) fell under .500 at home at 11-12 — the only winning team with a losing record at home. 

Down six in the final minute of the extra session, they made a frantic rally, and had a chance to win it, but Jalen Brunson’s 3-pointer at the horn hit off the back rim. It capped a frustrating setback that saw the Knicks give up 14 offensive rebounds and send the Raptors to the free throw line a whopping 41 times. 

Scottie Barnes scores during the Raptors' win over the Knicks on Jan. 16.
Scottie Barnes scores during the Raptors’ win over the Knicks on Jan. 16.
Jason Szenes
RJ Barrett dunks late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
RJ Barrett dunks late in the fourth quarter to send the game to overtime.
Jason Szenes

Barrett led the Knicks with 32 points, but the other Knicks stars, Brunson and Julius Randle, combined to shoot 18-of-49 from the field. Fred VanVleet scored 33 points for the Raptors and Scottie Barnes had 26. 

Two Barnes free throws gave the Raptors a one-point lead with 12.1 seconds left in regulation, but after a Brunson miss, Barnes couldn’t put the game away. He split two at the line and Barrett went coast-to-coast for the game-tying slam, coasting past Barnes for the uncontested two-handed jam with 0.6 seconds left, forcing overtime. 

Julius Randle dunks during the Knicks' loss to the Raptors on Jan. 16.
Julius Randle dunks during the Knicks’ loss to the Raptors on Jan. 16.
Jason Szenes

The Knicks had plenty of chances to put the game away, but they couldn’t shake the Raptors. When they went up seven early in the third quarter, Toronto answered with an 8-1 spurt. Early in the fourth quarter, the Knicks pushed their lead to a game-high 10, but the Raptors reeled off four straight points, forcing a Tom Thibodeau timeout. It was only two after a Scottie Barnes’ 3-pointer, and even after a Quentin Grimes 3-pointer pushed the lead back to five with 3:22 to go, VanVleet reeled off five in a row to get Toronto even. 

The early part of the first half felt like the last time the Raptors were at the Garden, back on Dec. 21 when they snapped the Knicks’ eight-game winning streak. Like that game, the Knicks were struggling to deal with Toronto’s versatility, pressure defense and offensive aggressiveness. The Raptors methodically built a 10-point lead by forcing their way to the free-throw line, attempting 22 over the first 24 minutes. 

Jalen Brunson shoots during the Knicks' loss to the Raptors on Jan. 16.
Jalen Brunson shoots during the Knicks’ loss to the Raptors on Jan. 16.
Jason Szenes

But in a stretch of 5:13 in the second quarter, the Knicks scored 22 of a possible 28 points, turning that 10-point deficit into a six-point lead. After starting 1-for-8 from the field, Barrett scored seven points in the run which included his first made 3-pointer after four consecutive misses at the outset and Brunson followed with six. Most importantly, the Knicks’ defense woke up, limiting Toronto to one made field goal during that burst and 6-of-17 shooting overall in the period. 

Randle was the best player on the floor in the half, not only scoring 12 points, but adding seven rebounds and five assists. Twice, he got all the way to the rim for explosive dunks after beating his man off the dribble. 

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