Then their poor final-minute execution allowed the Raptors to keep this one.
Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan each scored 21 points, and the Raptors held onto a big cushion this time, beating New York 90-85 on Monday night.
Jose Calderon added nine points and 12 assists for the Raptors, who blew a 16-point lead Sunday in Orlando before losing 102-96. They opened a 17-point advantage at halftime in this one thanks to the Knicks' inept second quarter then held on to snap a three-game losing streak.
"We didn't let their run get to us," DeRozan said. "The last couple of games you know teams made runs on us and we let it get to us and we kind of broke down on the defensive end. So tonight we didn't let that happen."
Carmelo Anthony had 35 points and 11 rebounds as the Knicks played their second straight game without Amare Stoudemire, who has a sprained left ankle. But they couldn't duplicate their impressive play from their victory without him on Saturday in Sacramento, shooting just 36 per cent from the field and misfiring on 25 of their 35 three-point attempts.
Toney Douglas had 22 points for the Knicks, 12 during a third quarter that finally woke them up after a dreadful second period in which they made three baskets. But he appeared to forget the play when the Knicks inbounded down three in the final seconds, forcing Anthony to launch a long-range attempt that missed with 13 seconds left.
Coach Mike D'Antoni was all the way on the court hollering for Douglas to move before the ball was thrown in, and he said after the game the Knicks forgot the play that was to be run.
"I thought the whole first half our energy was down. We didn't play real hard. And then I think we got a little snake bitten in the sense of when you're not playing hard, things aren't falling, it started being contagious and everybody started missing shots, and we were playing on our heels," D'Antoni said. "Halftime we talked about it and we came out and played aggressive and I thought second half was really good, but we needed obviously 48 minutes and didn't get it."
The Raptors missed a chance to extend a three-point lead in the final 90 seconds when Amir Johnson blew a dunk, and Anthony followed with a drive into the lane to cut it to 84-83 with 1:04 to go. Bargnani answered with a jumper, and after Tyson Chandler's dunk, Bargnani sank a pair of free throws to keep it at a three-point edge with 17 seconds left.
Anthony missed the three-point attempt and Anthony Carter, who finished last season with the Knicks, hit two free throws to make it 90-85 with 10.7 seconds remaining.
Rasual Butler had 13 points and 10 rebounds for Toronto.
"A little bit different than last night," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "They made the run. We knew they were going to make a run. Our guys bounced back, hung in there, took the blow and absorbed it."
Stoudemire could be back Wednesday against the Bobcats, and Iman Shumpert could return this week, ahead of the two to four week absence that was expected when he sprained a right knee ligament in the Christmas opener.
The Knicks showed how badly they could have used his help in the first half.
New York led 23-22 after one, but then shot 3 of 19 (16 per cent) in the second quarter. They heard some boos at Madison Square Garden, where the loudest cheers came when receiver Victor Cruz of the playoff-bound Giants was shown in his courtside seat.
The Knicks didn't monopolize the ugliness — Toronto's Jamaal Magloire threw up an airball on a free throw. But Toronto shot 56 per cent in the second quarter and ran off seven straight during one Knicks drought to open a 17-point lead before taking a 51-34 advantage into halftime.
"Second half we played with a lot more confidence," Anthony said. "First half, I really don't know what was wrong with us. No excuses, but I think, I know, in the second half we did a better job defensively. Offensively guys made shots."
DeRozan hit a three-pointer to open Toronto's second-half scoring, but the Knicks surged back behind Douglas, who had a four-point play among his 12 points in the period as New York got within three before Toronto took a 67-58 lead into the final period.
Rookie Josh Harrellson, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds as Stoudemire's replacement Saturday, was limited to two points and five boards. Chandler finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Notes: Stoudemire said the training staff has been "overloading" the ankle with treatment and he could tell there was improvement, but the staff determined after testing Monday morning that he needed a few more days. ... Mike Bibby's technical foul from the game in Sacramento has been rescinded by the NBA.