Knicks-Raptors Preview

TORONTO -- The Toronto Raptors completed a four-game sweep of a Western swing for the first time in history Wednesday when they defeated the Sacramento Kings.

Yet, the Raptors feel that they can be better.

"It's just four wins," Raptors point guard Kyle Lowry said.

"Just finding a way," Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said. "None of these (wins) were particularly pretty, except for the Lakers game, and even in that second half, we (let them have) a run."

The Raptors (11-1), who are off to their best start in team history. return home Saturday afternoon to play the New York Knicks.

They are 6-0 at home this season.

The early season has not gone so smoothly for the Knicks (4-8).

The team announced Friday that they will be without forward Lance Thomas for at least he next month after he had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee Thursday to remove loose bodies.

"In the last week or so you could tell it was really bugging him," Knicks coach David Fizdale said.

The 30-year-old began the season as a starter but was relegated to the bench after five games by Noah Vonleh. Thomas, the longest-tenured Knick and the captain last season, has averaged 3.9 points this season and did not play Wednesday in the 112-107 victory over the Atlanta Hawks.

The Knicks won the game with 35-18 third quarter led by 15 points from Tim Hardaway Jr., who had a game-high 34 points. Enes Kanter had 17 points and 11 rebounds for his eighth double-double this season.

The Knicks rookie lottery pick forward Kevin Knox was 0-for-6 from the field at Atlanta in his second game back from a sprained ankle he suffered on Oct. 20 in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

"The kid hasn't had a full practice," Fizdale said after Wednesday's game. "That was my big thing. I still want him to practice. The doctors cleared him to play so this is his practice right now. I like his shots -- all down and in. It's all a matter of time until clicks for him.?

Fizdale has changed his play calling. The team's lack of success emerging from time outs was obvious during a 116-115 double overtime loss to the Chicago Bulls on Monday.

"Out of timeouts, we haven't executed well," Fizdale said. "I started early in the season doing a little more complex things and now have tried to simplify it more and I think that's helping us a little bit be organized more. I don't want to give them too much because they freeze on me. I'd rather them be organized."

Courtney Lee (neck spasms) and Kristaps Porzingis (left knee) are out for the Knicks on Saturday.

Toronto, meanwhile. had some more injury news of its own this week. It was announced Wednesday that Norman Powell is out indefinitely after suffering a left shoulder subluxation Monday at Utah. Powell is averaging averaged five points and two rebounds in 11 games and was just beginning to play better.

The Raptors realize they still can improve, and they know that other teams are still finding themselves despite holding the NBA's best record so far.

"Every other team is still trying to figure it out, too," Raptors guard Danny Green said. "Not many teams have their foundation back. I think we have a good group of people back from last year with a couple of additions which makes it easier, but I'm anxious to see how we are when we are 100 percent healthy."

The Raptors have had some injuries to players like Powell, Delon Wright, VanVleet, Kawhi Leonard and C.J. Miles and OG Anunoby missed two games for personal reasons.

"I'd say 35 percent of our defensive schemes aren't in yet and our offense is about the same," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "There are a lot of things to get out there and a lot of things we still want to try and see if they can be effective for later on."

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