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Reply To: NBA • Monday Service Plays • 2/22/16

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Preview: Toronto At New York

When: 7:30 PM ET, Monday, February 22, 2016
Where: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York

The New York Knicks have at least tentatively ended their slide and look to post consecutive victories for the first time in more than a month when they host the Toronto Raptors on Monday. New York ended a seven-game losing skid by defeating Minnesota on Saturday for only its second win in 13 games since winning back-to-back games Jan. 18-20.

Toronto stepped it up on defense in Sunday’s 98-85 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies after allowing an average of 116.5 points in back-to-back defeats to Minnesota and Chicago following the All-Star break. “I thought the defense was in the game,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “Everyone’s knees were bent, down in the stance, ready to play and out of vacation mode.” Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony had 30 points and 11 rebounds against the Timberwolves to become the 30th player in NBA history to reach 22,000 career points. Anthony, who has 22,002 points, has topped 20 points in four straight games and is averaging 26.5 points during the stretch.

TV: 8 p.m. ET, Sportsnet One (Toronto), MSG (New York)

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (36-18): All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan had 21 points against Memphis and the win was his 232rd with the Raptors, equaling the franchise record held by Chris Bosh and Morris Peterson. “I kept seeing it on Twitter the past couple of days and that’s how I really knew,” DeRozan said afterward. “It’s a cool thing honestly, just to be in the same record books and I have an opportunity to keep growing with that.” DeRozan has exceeded 20 points in eight of the past nine games and is averaging 24.8 points during the stretch.

ABOUT THE KNICKS (24-33): Center Robin Lopez is averaging 15.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in seven games this month, and he matched his previous best game of the season when he exploded offensively and on the boards against Minnesota. Lopez had 26 points on 11-of-14 shooting and collected 16 rebounds —the exact same season-best stat line he had against Detroit on Feb. 4. “For me, it’s more my teammates are confident throwing me the ball, confident in watching me go to work,” Lopez told reporters. “Staff, coaches, it’s a lot easier to perform when you’re in a situation like that.”

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The teams split two games this season and the Raptors have won four of the past six meetings.

2. Toronto All-Star PG Kyle Lowry has scored in double digits in all 54 games and he has topped 20 points on 31 occasions.

3. New York rookie C Kristaps Porzingis had just six points and two rebounds against Minnesota after averaging 19 points and nine rebounds in the previous four contests.

PREDICTION: Raptors 107, Knicks 98