It's been so far, so good for the New York Knicks under interim head coach Mike Woodson, and the team will try to make it four straight wins for the new bench boss tonight versus the Toronto Raptors at Madison Square Garden.
Woodson took over the team when Mike D'Antoni stepped down from the post and the Knicks have responded with three straight wins, including a home-and-home sweep of the pesky Indiana Pacers. In Saturday's 102-88 victory at Indiana, Jeremy Lin scored a team-high 19 points and both Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire netted 16 for the Knicks, who suffered through a six-game losing streak before Woodson took over.
"Our hearts are right and it was a total team effort," Woodson said after the win over the Pacers. "I couldn't be more proud of the team than I am tonight."
Woodson is the sixth coach in NBA history to win his first three games by 14 or more points in each game with a new team. New York is holding opponents to 89.0 points on 92-235 shooting over the last three games, while averaging 112.7 points per game over that span. Lin is averaging 19.3 points, 8.1 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.18 steals in his past 22 games.
The Knicks will play four of six games at MSG and own a 13-10 mark as the host this season. They are 4 1/2 games behind Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead and a half-game ahead of Milwaukee for the eighth and final postseason spot in the Eastern Conference.
New York will visit Philadelphia and Toronto after tonight, and will return home for a three-game residency against the Pistons, Bucks and Magic. Knicks guard Baron Davis (hamstring) is questionable for tonight and guard Toney Douglas (personal) is probable. Davis did not play Saturday.
The Raptors will close out a five-game road trip (2-2) Tuesday and has lost five of their last seven games overall. They suffered a 107-103 setback to the lowly Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday, as Jerryd Bayless paced the Raptors with 29 points to go with six assists and DeMar DeRozan added 20 points.
"Guys just have to get comfortable playing with each other again," said Bayless after the loss. "A lot of guys have been in and out of the lineup. We came out really strong but we just had a little bit of a fold in the third quarter."
Andrea Bargnani had 11 points and is averaging 20.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 34.0 minutes in 13 road games. Bayless is posting 17.8 points, 5.3 assists and 34.5 minutes in 11 games as a starter.
Toronto's Jose Calderon missed his fifth straight contest with a sprained right ankle and he is probable for tonight. Calderon is averaging 10.5 points and 8.5 assists this season.
The Raptors will head north for a two-game homestand versus Chicago and New York after their trip to the Big Apple. They are 8-16 away from Air Canada Centre in 2011-12 and finished 3-2 during a five-game road trip from Jan. 22-29 against the Clippers, Phoenix, Utah, Denver and New Jersey.
Toronto and New York have split two meetings so far this season, with each team holding serve as the guest. The Knicks have won five of the previous six matchups in this series.