In a game that mirrored that in New Jersey just a few nights ago, the Raps managed to secure the must needed win against a lesser opponent.
Having won two games in a row the team now heads into arguably the most important stretch of games this season.
Here's the good news - the Raps had to win the last two games and they did exactly that.
Here's the bad news - the wins have hardly provided any evidence that they are back on the right track, in particular last night against the Wolves.
In the first 24 minutes the game was sloppy and the Wolves battled the Raps to a draw. Minnesota actually looked pretty good early on as they refused to settle for jumpers, constantly fed the guys on the blocks and did just enough to stay in the game. The Raps on the other hand, had a hard time getting into any sort of groove.
Early in the second half it looked like things had changed and the Raps were going to put the game to bed late in the third quarter. The Raps started the second half on fire while the Wolves, much like the Nets just a couple of nights before, started to show their true colours. Chris Bosh had a strong third quarter and it looked like the game was in hand...but as quick as the Raps had built up a double digit lead they let that lead fizzle.
The fourth quarter was a battle and the game was not decided until the last few possessions. What happened? The Raps let their guard down, in particular on the defensive end, and the Wolves took advantage putting up 32 points in the last 12 minutes of action. The Raps were slow closing out on the perimeter and Minnesota simply hit the open shots.
This game never should have been this close and to be honest I was shocked that the Wolves battled back. What was even more surprising is that Minnesota managed to stay in the game despite the Raps getting stronger performances from the likes of Andrea Bargnani and Hedo Turkoglu (in crunch time).
If you measure the strong all-around effort from the Toronto team against the tight result how is one supposed to feel? Do you feel good because they got the win or concerned because they needed to battle one of the league's bottom feeders right to the end to get it? Sure it's a win, but it was far from impressive. Your view on last night's outcome will likely be determined by whether you are generally an optimist or a pessimist.
One thing that cannot be disputed however is that the biggest difference between this game and the last was the quality effort the Raps got from Andrea Bargnani. After some lackluster performances as of late Andrea played one of his best games in weeks. Il Mago was not only in a groove offensively but he was also active on the glass and managed to contribute in a variety of ways including 4 assists and 2 steals. Do you think his performance was tied to this article? Not exactly a rave review of the former number one pick but last night he played like one.
The Raps also got very strong efforts from their stable of swingmen - DeMar DeRozan, Sonny Weems and Antoine Wright all played good games. Weems was a real spark plug off the bench, DeRozan scored in double digits and Antoine Wright had a clutch three when the game was in doubt.
Last night was just an odd game. The Raps played well and yet needed some clutch plays and poor execution by the Wolves in the final moments to get the W. The win is an important one, but what is more important is what they do with it. Can the aforementioned Bargnani use this game as a turning point for the home stretch? Can the team start to get a consistent effort? Will they use these wins to build momentum or are these past two W's nothing more than an inevitable result against some brutal competition?
It's usually a loss that results in unanswered questions - but last's night's win seems to have had the same effect. Lucky for Raps fans it won't take long for these questions to be answered. The Raps next few games against teams actually in the playoff picture (Utah and Denver) should tell us all we need to know.