Raptors stay alive in race for East top seed behind DeRozan
NEW YORK (AP) The Toronto Raptors still can get home-court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
If not, at least they know they are better than ever on the road.
DeMar DeRozan converted a tiebreaking three-point play with 1:05 left on a night he became Toronto's No. 2 career scorer, and the Raptors beat the New York Knicks 93-89 on Sunday to stay alive for the No. 1 seed in the East.
DeRozan finished with 27 points as the Raptors pulled within two games of Cleveland with two to play for both teams. Toronto won the season series and owns the tiebreaker if the teams finish with the same record.
But the Raptors aren't caught up in that after setting a franchise record with 23 road victories.
''In this league, you've got to be able to win at home and win on the road,'' DeRozan said. ''Sometimes the road is bigger and I think we just like that pressure of having our backs against the wall and I think that's why we play so well on the road.''
Kyle Lowry scored 15 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 14 for the Raptors, who close with games against Philadelphia and Brooklyn, the two worst teams in the East. Cleveland finishes against playoff-bound Atlanta and Detroit.
DeRozan has 9,426 points and moved ahead of Vince Carter (9,420). He now trails only Chris Bosh (10,275) on the Raptors' career list.
''Right now, it's just another accolade to add to our list of things that we've done this year,'' Lowry said. ''As a group and as individuals, we'll all look at everything we've done this year after the season's over.''
Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points in just 25 minutes in the Knicks' final home game of the season. Jerian Grant added 19.
DeRozan and Lowry returned to the lineup after sitting out against Indiana on Friday, but the Raptors started poorly and could never shake the Knicks even when the All-Star guards turned it on in the second half.
The Knicks raced to a 21-10 lead, but Toronto recovered to take a 54-51 edge into halftime, then built its own double-digit advantage that the Knicks wiped away in the fourth quarter.
DeRozan then drove baseline to beat two defenders and make a layup while being fouled, giving Toronto an 89-86 lead. Grant followed with a basket, but the Knicks didn't score again and Valanciunas just beat the shot clock with 33 seconds left before the Raptors finished it off from the foul line.
Raptors: Toronto had won 22 road games in each of the last three seasons. ... The Raptors played without Luis Scola, who was rested and didn't make the trip, and Delon Wright (left hip pointer).
Knicks: New York remained without injured starters Kristaps Porzingis (strained right shoulder) and Jose Calderon (bruised right quadriceps). ... The Knicks honored Walt Frazer with the Dick McGuire Knickerbocker Legacy award. The Hall of Fame player has been a broadcaster for the team for 27 years.
HE'S NO. 2
Coach Dwane Casey praised DeRozan for his latest achievement, but Lowry went another way when he asked what being the Raptors' No. 2 scorer meant.
''That means he's a gunner. He doesn't pass enough, he shoots too much,'' Lowry said of his good friend and backcourt mate. ''Nah, nah, that's a great accomplishment for him. It's a great individual achievement.''
Anthony said he never thought that this could be his last home game as a Knicks player. He has to approve any trade, even if the Knicks did want to deal him.
''No, I don't think about that. Not right now. I can't think about that,'' Anthony said. ''My mindset is just figuring out how we're going to better this situation, how we're going to continue to grow as a team, grow as an organization, and not get used to going home this early in April.''
Raptors: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday.
Knicks: Visit Indiana on Tuesday.