Latest News: Knicks put on show and blow out Raptors in Mitchell Robinson’s return…

TORONTO — The Knicks’ long wait for Mitchell Robinson is over, and their annihilation of undermanned lottery-bound teams in the past week continues.


Robinson appeared in his first game in more than three months since undergoing ankle surgery, and the Knicks posted their highest-scoring game of the season in a 145-101 rout of the reeling Raptors at Scotiabank Arena.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but his conditioning was pretty good,” coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. “Each day he’s gotten better. You never know what to expect.

“But it was a good baseline for us and I liked the way he moved. He’ll get better and better each day.”

Miles McBride scored 18 of his 29 points on six 3-pointers — of his nine overall — in a 45-point opening quarter as the Knicks (44-28) leapfrogged the Cavaliers in the standings and into the coveted No. 3 playoff position in the Eastern Conference

Jalen Brunson contributed 26 points and seven assists, and former Raptors forward Precious Achiuwa had 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, whose 80 points in the first half also represented their most this season.

Robinson, the team’s starting center and defensive linchpin, also was back in uniform for the first time since Dec. 8. He finished with eight points, two rebounds and two blocked shots in 12 minutes off the bench with Isaiah Hartenstein (15 points) remaining for now among the starting five.

The 25-year-old Robinson had missed 50 games after suffering a left-ankle injury that required surgery.

“I believe my defense is kind of there. I think I still got a little bit to work on for that, but the shot-blocking is still there,” said Robinson, who grabbed an offensive rebound on his first possession of the game. “That’s usually what I do, and for me to miss a couple months and come back and return to it like that right out the gate is great. It’s a great sign.”

Robinson, who has been practicing with the Knicks for the past week, was leading the NBA at the time of his injury with 5.3 offensive rebounds per game. And his 10.3 overall average on the boards represented a career high.

Still, Hartenstein has played well in Robinson’s absence, posting 8.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game over his previous 39 starts.

But Hartenstein also has been on a minutes restriction since the All-Star break to manage a nagging Achilles injury, averaging 22.6 minutes per game over his past 16 appearances.

Thibodeau hasn’t fully committed to a center rotation with Robinson returning, but he indicated last week that he could keep Hartenstein as the starter and stagger the minutes so the rest of the regular starting unit also gets time on the court with Robinson.

With Achiuwa, Josh Hart and Jericho Sims playing expanded roles amid the team’s rash of injuries, the Knicks still began play Wednesday tied with the Hawks in offensive rebounding for the season with 12.8 per game.

Two-time All-Star Julius Randle (shoulder) and former Raptors forward OG Anunoby (elbow) remained out for the Knicks with 10 games remaining in the regular season beginning Friday night in San Antonio.

The Raptors, losers of 12 straight games, were without former Knicks RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley (personal reasons), as well as All-Star wing Scottie Barnes, Jacob Poeltl and others.

One game after DiVincenzo set a franchise record with 11 made 3-pointers in a similar rout of the league-worst Pistons, McBride knocked down six of eight long-range attempts from beyond the arc in the first 12 minutes. That matched the franchise mark for one quarter, tying John Starks and Quentin Richardson.

DiVincenzo jokingly acknowledged afterward that he wondered if his record only would last 48 hours.

The Knicks led 45-33 through one and they extended their lead to as many as 21 in the second before carrying a 80-59 advantage into intermission. It marked their second-highest scoring first half in franchise history, one point off the record set in March of last season against the Nets.

For reference, the Knicks had been held to 73 points in a loss to the 76ers barely two weeks ago.

“I thought we created shots for each other, created advantages, trusted the pass,” Thibodeau said of his team’s 37 assists. “We got into a good rhythm, and then I thought our defense picked up in the second half.

“Everything matters, and so the challenge for us is to keep getting better.”

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