TORONTO — Prior to Thursday's game Dwane Casey warned his team about playing down to a struggling opponent.
The Raptors got the message, thumping the New York Knicks 113-88 on the strength of another solid performance from the bench.
All five members of the Raptors' second unit scored in double digits, led by Pascal Siakam who finished with 14 points six assists and five rebounds. Jakob Poeltl added 13 points and five rebounds while Jonas Valanciunas led the starters with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
"The starters didn't have a rhythm tonight," said Casey. "We've got to make sure we maintain (the starters) rhythm. Even though we're winning, they're an important part of our team so we've got to make sure we find (their) offensive rhythm. It's been hard for them to get one, especially when they don't go in that last quarter.
"The second unit is playing the game the right way. They're executing defensively, they're getting after it, they're assisting... they were moving the ball and making shots."
Serge Ibaka chipped in 13 points and eight rebounds for the Raptors (38-16), who have now won four straight and six of seven overall. Toronto's second unit out-scored New York's bench 61-35.
"They're second group is a really good group," said Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek. "They've been doing all year and that's why they are one of the top teams now. Again, they showed it."
Michael Beasley led the Knicks (23-33) with a game-high 21 points and seven rebounds while Trey Burke added 12 points and three assists off the bench.
New York was playing without Kristaps Porzingis for the first time on Thursday. The Knicks forward suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament on Tuesday and is done for the season. New York was also without guard Ron Baker (right shoulder surgery) and centre Enes Kanter (oral surgery).
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined for 15 points on 4 for 21 shooting from the field. For a fourth straight game the Raptors were able to hold its starters to under 30 minutes.
"You kind of appreciate it more in the long run because there'll be moments in the season where we play through a lot of things and really don't have time to let things heal and let things get back to feeling 100 per cent," said DeRozan of the rest. "Games like this, give us that opportunity to be able to not nag anymore injuries."
The Raptors bench used an early 10-2 surge to push their lead to 23 with 7:43 to play in the fourth, and cruised the rest of the way to earn their 23rd home win of the season.
Toronto led 82-66 after three quarters.
Valanciunas had 11 points and five rebounds as Toronto led 52-41 at the break. Beasley led all Knicks scorers with 13 points and three rebounds.
The Raptors led by as much as 13 with 6:11 to play in the half thanks to seven points each from Poeltl and Siakam off the bench.
The Raptors led by five, 23-18, after one quarter despite shooting just 33 per cent from the field.
Valanciunas led the way with eight points and four rebounds while Tim Hardaway Jr., and Beasley each had four for the Knicks.
Notes: The Raptors and Knicks meet for a fourth and final time on Mar. 11 at Madison Square Garden. … Following the game the Raptors officially announced they acquired G Malachi Richardson in exchange for F Bruno Caboclo prior to Thursday's NBA trade deadline.
Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press