Fred VanVleet drilled seven three-point jumpers and 35 points total to help the Toronto Raptors dispatch the shorthanded New York Knicks 120-105 on Sunday.
The victory pushed the Raptors (16-17) past the Knicks (17-20) and into 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, the final spot for the play-in tournament after the regular season.
VanVleet’s performance came on the heels of a 31-point outing in Toronto’s win against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday, giving him back-to-back games of 30-plus points for the first time in his career.
It was the fifth time VanVleet has checked in with 30 or more points in a game this season.
Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and rookie Scottie Barnes hit double figures with 20, 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Chris Boucher of Montreal came off the bench to chip in 12 points for the Raptors.
Toronto won their second straight before about 100 family members and friends at Scotiabank Arena due to provincial-mandated COVID-19 crowd restrictions.
This was the first game Raptors head coach Nick Nurse had a full complement of significant players this season. Siakam missed the first 10 games because of off-season shoulder surgery, and then COVID-19 cases ripped through the roster last month.
The Knicks were without Kemba Walker (left knee), Derrick Rose (right ankle surgery), Julius Randle and Mitchell Robinson. The latter two were added to the league’s health and safety protocols list on Thursday and Saturday, respectively.
Led by VanVleet’s 10 points, the Raptors were in good form early, jumping out to a 17-6 lead. But New York narrowed the gap to trail only 30-27 by the end of the first quarter.
VanVleet, with 16 points, and Anunoby’s 14 points, pushed the Raptors to a 56-45 halftime lead.
The Knicks began the second half with a run that pulled them to within 59-50, but then Raptors centre Khem Birch made consecutive field goals to increase the home side’s advantage to 13 points.
VanVleet then nailed five three-point jumpers. Siakam was good for three straight field goals, and Barnes hit back-to-back three-pointers to help Toronto to a 96-74 advantage after three quarters.
France’s Evan Fournier led the Knicks with 20 points, followed by Canadian RJ Barrett of Toronto and Obi Toppin with 19 apiece.