THE RAPTORS put a winning punctuation mark on a stretch of games against struggling opponents.
Their next six contests will provide a significantly greater challenge.
Lou Williams and Kyle Lowry each scored 22 points and Toronto beat the visiting New York Knicks, 118-108, yesterday for their sixth consecutive win, all against Eastern Conference teams with losing records.
Toronto, which leads the East at 22-6, tonight visits Chicago, the first game on a season-high, six-game road trip that finishes with five against Western Conference opponents.
"We're looking forward to this challenge," Toronto's Greivis Vasquez said. "Any time you go to the West it's not easy, but I think we're good enough to come out with a couple of wins and do our job. We've got to remain humble and hungry and continue to work."
With the World Junior Hockey Championships moving into Air Canada Centre over the holidays, the Raptors won't play at home again until Jan. 8 against Charlotte. After Chicago, they'll visit the Clippers, Denver, Portland, Golden State and Phoenix.
Vasquez had 21 points and Terrence Ross scored 18 for the Raptors, who never trailed in matching their longest winning streak of the season.
Carmelo Anthony scored 28 for the Knicks, who lost their fifth straight and have dropped 15 of 16 overall.
In other games
* At Cleveland, LeBron James had 25 points and 11 assists, Dion Waiters scored 13 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and the Cavaliers defeated the Memphis Grizzlies, 105-91.
* At Sacramento, DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 14 rebounds in his second start since returning from viral meningitis, and the Kings beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-101, to snap a five-game losing streak.
* At Oklahoma City, Anthony Davis scored 38 points to lead New Orleans past the Thunder, 101-99. Jrue Holiday had 11 points and matched his career high with 15 assists for the Pelicans. The Thunder was without Keven Durant (sprained ankle).
* At Washington, Eric Bledsoe and Markieff Morris each scored 17 points, Goran Dragic added 16 and the Phoenix ended the Wizards' winning streak at six, 104-92.
* At Miami, Luol Deng had 23 points, James Ennis scored 10 of his 16 in the fourth quarter and the Heat beat Boston, 100-84, to end a five-game home losing streak.
* At Minneapolis, C.J. Miles scored 28 points to help lead the Indiana Pacers to a 100-96 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
* At Brooklyn, Mason Plumlee scored 10 of his 21 points in the fourth quarter and had 12 rebounds in the Nets' 110-105 victory over Detroit.