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Raptors win division despite loss to Knicks
TORONTO -- The New York Knicks were 108-100 winners on Friday, but came away with only the right to try to keep winning to maintain their playoff hopes.
The Toronto Raptors lost but wound up winning the Atlantic Division for the second time in franchise history because the Brooklyn Nets lost to the Atlanta Hawks.
The Knicks need to keep winning in their final three games of the season while the Hawks must start to lose if New York is to have a chance.
"We've got to hope Atlanta loses the next three and we win," Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. "That's the only way we have a shot of getting in."
Forward Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points and forward Amar'e Stoudemire added 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Knicks (34-45), who snapped a two-game losing streak.
Guard J.R. Smith added 15 points and guard Raymond Felton added 12 points, including the final four points of the game on free throws. Guard/forward Iman Shumpert had 11 points before fouling out for the Knicks.
"Impossible, no," Smith said. "I don't think it's impossible. It's a long shot, but we've still got a shot."
Guard DeMar DeRozan led the Raptors with 26 points and guard Kyle Lowry scored 25. Center Jonas Valanciunas had 14 points and 21 rebounds and forward Terrence Ross added 13 points while guard/forward John Salmons had 10 for the Raptors (46-33), who had their four-game winning streak ended.
"I thought both teams were kind of feeling each other out at first," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "This game was not about us not playing hard. I thought we made them take tough shots. And they made some difficult shots. We didn't take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had."
"We competed," Woodson said. "And I thought it was a grind the whole game and in the fourth quarter when it came down to crunch time we made plays defensively."
The Raptors' other Atlantic Division title came in 2006-07, when they won 47 games.
"It's big," said forward Amir Johnson, wearing a red T-shirt that recognized the division win. "Especially for me and everybody else in the room who has been here. We've been here for five years and we've been through our ups and downs and to take the Atlantic is a big deal. It's a proud moment."
Shumpert scored the first four points of the fourth quarter as New York took a five-point lead. The lead was up to seven when Stoudemire made two free throws with 7:48 to play. The lead reached eight on Shumpert's layup with just under six minutes to play. Stoudemire scored four straight points to put the Knicks into a 100-89 lead with 4:03 to play.
The Raptors whittled the lead to seven points with 2:03 to play on Lowry's driving layup. The Raptors could not take advantage of a Knicks' missed shot and missed a shot of their own. New York took over with 1:17 to play.
DeRozan hit two free throws with 36.8 seconds to play after Shumpert's fifth foul to cut the lead to five points. Smith made a pair of free throws with 36.1 seconds and the Knicks led by seven points.
But Lowry scored and made the free throw on Shumpert's sixth foul to cut the lead to four points with 31.5 seconds left. The Knicks got the lead back to six on two free throws by Smith. DeRozan countered with two foul shots with 22.8 seconds left, but Felton restored the six-point advantage by making his two free throws and added two more.
Ross and DeRozan made 3-pointers to open the third quarter and give Toronto an eight-point lead. But the Knicks quickly reduced the lead to three. Smith hit his second 3-pointer of the quarter to tie the game at 61. Anthony's turnaround jumper put the Knicks ahead 69-68 and they led 78-77 after the three quarters.
The Raptors led 47-45 at the intermission, led by Lowry's 12 points. Anthony led all first-half scorers with 18 points.
Lowry made three 3-pointers in the opening quarter to help the Raptors to a 26-24 lead. His second 3-pointer gave him the franchise record of 178 for one season. Guard/forward Morris Peterson set the previous record of 177. Lowry finished the game 4-for-7 in 3-pointers and has 180 for the season.
"We put ourselves in this position," Smith said. "We can't get mad at anybody but ourselves. We put ourselves in this situation."
NOTES: Raptors F Amir Johnson (sore right ankle) started on Friday after missing three games. He was injured after playing just under three minutes in the April 2 win over the Houston Rockets. ... Raptors and former Knicks F Landry Fields (respiratory illness) did not play on Friday. ... Knicks F Carmelo Anthony (sore right shoulder) scored a total of 23 points on 29 per cent shooting in the Knicks two previous games, losses to the Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat. ... The Raptors swept the Knicks in a home-and-home series Dec. 27-28 to start a five-game winning streak. ... The Raptors visit the Detroit Pistons for a game Sunday afternoon. ... The Knicks are home to the Chicago Bulls on Sunday night. ... The Knicks and Raptors end their regular seasons with a game next Wednesday in New York.