Raptors centre Andrea Bargnani blocks a layup attempt by New York Knicks forward Jordan Hill in the first quarter on Thursday at Madison Square Garden in New York. (Reuters)
NEW YORK -- Jay Triano wanted to take his show on the road ... and got the desired result.
With just eight wins on foreign courts this season, the Raptors weren't exactly making a name for themselves as road warriors. But a big Thursday night against the Knicks in the Big Apple could change all that.
Relying on their Air Canada Centre recipe of scoring depth, defence and late-game heroics, the Raptors pulled out a 106-104 decision against the Knicks, running their win streak to four games.
Toronto also won back-to-back for just the second time in 10 tries, a victory underlined by Hedo Turkoglu's season-best 26 points. It was a long-time coming as the big off-season acquisition stood as tall as Chris Bosh after New York grabbed a fast 16-point lead on the travel-weary visitors with a rainbow of three-pointers.
"We said to our guys in the first timeout: 'Just weather this and we'll be okay'," said Triano, who marked his 50th win as Raptors coach. "Sure enough, the second group came in and set the tone and let them know we weren't going to let them shoot anymore."
Jose Calderon, Amir Johnson and Antoine Wright, with a season-high 13 points, helped put the brakes on the Knicks, who gummed up a good chance to tie the game on the final play.
"This is the kind of game we have to win, against teams below us," Calderon said.
Turkoglu, who was hearing the boos at home not long ago, combined with Bosh for 26 of the club's 52 rebounds and even drove for three dunks.
"If DeMar DeRozan's ankle doesn't get better, he may take his place in the (all-star game) dunk contest," Triano teased. "But they'll have to re-paint the rims here ... he was all over them."
Turkoglu was the X factor on this night.
"I just had the ball in my hands more than usual and was able to be more aggressive," he said. "If I don't have the ball, I have to go through the motions and do what it takes to get the 'W'. "
Triano has preached team toughness, mentally and physically, and is finally seeing the message get through.
"There have been small steps through the course of the past nine games," he said. "We were able to play a tight game and hold a lead against Dallas, play a tight game against the Lakers, not panicking after we got down 11 after (against Miami).
"I do like our team, I like the way we are starting right now. With nine new faces from the beginning of the year, I don't want to see much changed."
"Everything is clicking," the Raptors' newly minted all-star representative said. "We're looking for our shots and being aggressive, but at the same time, we know how the game is supposed to flow, who's open and what offensive sets we're going to run. It's coming together, bit-by-bit."