NEW YORK — Tim Hardaway Jr. made a call early Feb. 28 to his father, a former teammate of Anthony Mason in Miami and one of the people Hardaway knew would be saddened by Mason’s death.
Many of them were connected to the Knicks, so Hardaway was more aware than most what a good effort hours later against Toronto would mean.
“It was tough, but at the same time you’ve got a game to play and you’ve got business to take care of,” Hardaway said. “So we just wanted to go out there and compete for him.”
Hardaway scored 22 points, Langston Galloway made a clinching 3-pointer and the Knicks ended a sad day for the franchise with a 103-98 victory over Toronto, the Raptors’ season-high fifth straight loss.
After beginning the night with a moment of silence for Mason, a former Knicks forward who died Feb. 28 at 48, the team finished it by celebrating its second straight victory.
Former Raptors center Andrea Bargnani scored 19 points and newcomer Alexey Shved had 15 for the Knicks. Lou Amundson scored eight of his nine in the fourth quarter, but the Raptors made a late run after he missed a dunk, cutting a 13-point deficit to two before Galloway’s 3-pointer made it 103-98 with 13 seconds to go.
Lou Williams scored 22 points for the Raptors, who fell into a tie with Chicago for second place in the Eastern Conference and are just a half-game ahead of Cleveland for fourth.
Toronto coach Dwane Casey gave slumping All-Star Kyle Lowry a night off to rest, and without him the Raptors couldn’t find a way to get out of what Casey called the team’s “malaise.”
“We are going to solve this together,” said Greivis Vasquez, who started for Lowry. “We are not going to point fingers. We are going to gather ourselves and talk to each other and figure it out. Nobody said this is going to be easy.”
Leading by one early in the fourth quarter, the Knicks scored 10 straight points for a 90-79 lead on Amundson’s dunk. Jonas Valanciunas scored for the Raptors, but Shane Larkin and Amundson had consecutive baskets for a 94-81 advantage, and Toronto’s late run fell short.
Mason was a rugged defender who helped the Knicks reach the 1994 NBA Finals. He was the league’s Sixth Man of the Year the following season, and remained popular with fans and teammates long after he was traded away in 1996.
The Knicks honored him with a video tribute during a first-quarter timeout. Coach Derek Fisher recalled Mason as a “gritty” player who was always “determined to get the outcome that he sought.”
The current Knicks played the same way, following Friday’s double-overtime victory at Detroit with a second straight win after dropping eight in a row.
“Both nights were great teamwork. Everybody that stepped on the floor did something good for the team,” Bargnani said.
Lowry sat out for the first time this season. He had four points on 1-for-7 shooting Feb. 27 in the Raptors’ 113-89 home loss to Golden State, going without an assist for the first time since Oct. 31, 2009, and the first time ever as a starter.
The point guard is shooting under 30 percent in five games since the break and Casey said before the game he would try to find a spot to get him some rest.
A night after going 1 for 19 in the first quarter, the Raptors made six baskets in the opening period — only because DeMar DeRozan botched what should have been a seventh. He was alone on a fast break and tried what appeared would be a 360-degree dunk, but messed something up after takeoff and the ball rolled off the rim.
(BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer)