Toronto Raptors welcome Marc Gasol and send New York Knicks to 16th loss in row

Marc Gasol felt like the new kid at school before his first game with the Toronto Raptors.

To get ready, he spent time studying with Raptors assistant coach Sergio Scariolo — who happens to be Gasol’s coach on Spain’s national team.

“Obviously, I asked him a lot of questions about what should have been happening in each situation,” Gasol said after a 104-99 win over the New York Knicks on Saturday night.

“But at the end of the day, it’s about reads and reactions and understanding where you’re going to get the ball and what kind of shot you’re going to get,” Gasol said.

Gasol had seven points and six rebounds as Toronto sent the Knicks to their franchise record-tying 16th straight loss.

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Acquired from Memphis before Thursday’s trade deadline, Gasol played 19 minutes. The three-time All-Star entered late in the first quarter and made a hook shot on his first try.

The seven-footer, who spent his first 11 years in the league with the Grizzlies and is set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the season, was beaming about his new teammates.

Gasol teamed up with Kyle Lowry for half a season in Memphis before the point guard moved on and developed himself into an All-Star with Toronto. And Gasol knows Kawhi Leonard well from their battles out in the Western Conference while Leonard was a member of the San Antonio Spurs.

“The mindset is all in. It’s a clear goal, it’s one goal and that’s to play for a championship,” Gasol said.

Lowry scored 22 points and Serge Ibaka added 15 points and 13 rebounds for the Raptors.

New York closed to 91-90 on a three-pointer from Kadeem Allen with five minutes left. Danny Green hit back-to-back threes to extend the lead 97-90.

Mario Hezonja’s three-pointer with 11 seconds to go pulled the Knicks within 102-99. A pair of free throws from Lowry sealed it with eight seconds left.

Green and Norman Powell each had 14 points for the Raptors, who have won their last three games, all on the road.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse inserted Gasol into the game with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter.

“I think for a guy that hasn’t been with us, you could see the offence moving pretty well,” Nurse said. “He’s a guy who is in the right spots to keep things flowing. You throw it to him and there is cutting going on, there is flow to the offence.”

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Rookie Kevin Knox had 20 points and DeAndre Jordan had 10 points and 18 rebounds for a Knicks team that has not won a game since beating the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 4.

New York has lost 29 of its last 31. The Knicks last lost 16 straight games during the 2014-15 season.

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This year’s squad, with three rookies and seven players with less than three years in the league, also extended a franchise-worst record of 16 consecutive losses on their home floor.

“We understand what this year is,” Knicks coach David Fizdale said. “Whatever happens to us this year will not make us crack or waver.”

The Knicks took a 14-3 lead on Jordan’s put-back dunk before the Raptors called a timeout.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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