Just In: Precious Achiuwa and the Knicks hand the Raptors their worst home defeat…

It happens to every NBA player who returns to an arena he used to call home, a confluence of emotions from memories of living and working in familiar territory.

Precious Achiuwa experienced it Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena for the first time as a member of the New York Knicks. The 24-year-old Achiuwa, in his fourth NBA season, had to adjust to life in a new city following the blockbuster trade that sent him and OG Anunoby to New York at the end of December.

“It’s been good, you know, I can’t really complain,” Achiuwa said following the Knicks’ shootaround, hours before handing the Raptors the most lopsided home loss in franchise history, 145-101.

The Raptors played video tributes to Achiuwa and Anunoby, who both received standing ovations.

The biggest adjustments, said Achiuwa, have been on the court. A backup forward for most of two-plus seasons as a Raptor, he has seen his role expand significantly on a Knicks squad that expects to make a deep playoff run.

In 39 games with New York, Achiuwa has averaged 26.2 minutes per game, about 10 more than he was playing with the Raptors this season. He has also started 18 times for the Knicks, in place of Mitchell Robinson while he was injured. Robinson returned Wednesday after missing more than three months with an ankle injury.

Achiuwa is averaging 8.4 points and 7.7 rebounds as a Knick, up slightly from 7.7 points and 5.4 rebounds with Toronto. He did that and more off the bench Wednesday night, scoring 19 points and grabbing 13 rebounds.

Achiuwa’s ability to play multiple positions with defensive tenacity has impressed coach Tom Thibodeau.

“He’s still young enough where he can grow, and I think he’s adding a lot to our team, and we needed it (when) we’ve been down bodies,” Thibodeau said. “He stepped in and did a terrific job.”

Achiuwa’s success hasn’t gone unnoticed by his former coach.

“I think it’s him realizing what he needs to do and what it takes to stay on the court, and that’s doing what he does the best,” said Raptors coach Darko Rajakovic. “When he plays aggressively, when he rebounds the ball, when he keeps the game simple, he’s an extremely good player.”

The Raptors stretched the NBA’s longest active losing skid to 12 games with several regulars still out of the lineup. Rookie Gradey Dick led the offence with 23 points, Gary Trent Jr. added 16 and Garrett Temple contributed 15 off the bench, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

Scottie Barnes, Jakob Poeltl, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley and Chris Boucher all watched in street clothes as the Raptors trailed from tipoff to final buzzer.

With 10 games left in the regular season, the Knicks (44-28) are in a tight race with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Orlando Magic for playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference.

“Right now we’re just focusing on finishing up the season (strong),” Achiuwa said. “That’s the thing with the NBA: You just come and get ready to play. The most important thing is to win basketball games, and I think we are doing that at a really high level.”

Knicks star guard Jalen Brunson, who finished with 26 points, noted the contributions Achiuwa and Anunoby have made since they arrived.

“What they’ve been able to do since being here has really helped us be better,” he said. “I’m just really thankful that they’ve come in with the open mind of wanting to do just whatever it takes to win. It just shows what type of mindset (they have), what types of players they are to have that approach to the game.”

Brunson added that it’s still weird seeing former teammates Barrett and Quickley on the other side, but “those guys are my guys and I miss them a lot.”

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