MONTREAL (AP) - Andrea Bargnani bounced back nicely from his latest calf injury.
Bargnani scored 20 points and the Toronto Raptors beat the New York Knicks 107-88 on Friday night in a preseason game at the sold-out Bell Centre.
Bargnani, who was limited to 31 games last season because of calf strains, was back in the Raptors' starting lineup after he bruised his left calf and departed in the third quarter of Toronto's 104-101 victory over Washington on Wednesday.
``Last game that was really just a hit, a hard hit on the calf, so we just decided it wasn't worth it to keep playing limping,' Bargnani said. ``So I took some therapy but it's nothing like last year.'
Toronto won its third in a row to improve to 4-1 and dealt New York its first loss in three exhibition games before a lively crowd of 22,144.
``I want to say one thing about the fans here. I don't know if we can bottle it up and take it back to Toronto, but they were exciting fans, great fans. Packed house, guys on the sideline were yelling at the referees and getting on them, and it felt like we were in an NBA city,' Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. ``A great arena, great building, hot building, and it was good for our guys to give them a hard-fought game.'
The Raptors outscored New York 30-20 in the third quarter and went up by 12 after Jose Calderon scored on a layup off a turnover 2:27 into the fourth to make it 84-72.
Kyle Lowry finished with 17 points for Toronto and Amir Johnson contributed 14.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 24 points followed by Amare Stoudemire's 18 in his preseason debut after missing New York's first two games because of pain in his left knee.
``It felt great to be back out there, and get back in the swing of things,' Stoudemire said. ``It was a great feeling.'
Landry Fields faced New York for the first time since signing a three-year, $18.7-million offer sheet that the Knicks declined to match.
New York led 26-20 after the first quarter as Toronto got off to yet another slow start. Stoudemire's dunk gave the Knicks a 38-28 lead in the second, but Lowry hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to draw the Raptors even at 46.
``I don't know what it is, we probably start playing in the second and third quarter,' Casey said. ``We've got to get these kinks out in exhibition. I thought our fight started after the first quarter, is when we decided to compete, and that is what this is all about. The NBA is about competitors.'
Lowry made his second start after missing the Raptors' first three games because of a strained adductor muscle in his left leg.
Lithuanian rookie Jonas Valanciunas started for Toronto but took a seat on the bench 3:13 in after drawing a pair of early fouls. He finished with four points and 10 rebounds.
Toronto hosts Milwaukee on Monday night. New York faces Boston in Albany, N.Y., on Saturday night.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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