The Toronto Raptors returned from their road trip to host the Timberwolves on Friday night and decided it was time to stop their abysmal losing skid. The HQ's Sasha Kalra was in attendance and witnessed a cohesive team performance...
The team's long-awaited victory was made even sweeter by virtue of their opponent. Just a week ago these same Timberwolves flat out embarrassed the Raps at the Target Center and that night probably would have scripted Jay Triano's pre-game team talk yesterday evening, in an effort to get a rebound performance.
And rebound they did.
The ever-present injury list limited the team to a 9 man rotation that included 2 D-leaguers, but the starters responded by putting in a commendable team performance.
Andrea Bargnani's 30 points (on 10 of 26 shooting) will steal the headlines but that would be an injustice to the rest of the starting core.
Amir Johnson was a beast with 19 points and 12 rebounds on 8 of 10 shooting.
Jose Calderon didn't have the best of nights shooting the basketball but ended the game tying his career high of 19 assists.
DeMar DeRozan and Sonny Weems gave the T-wolves nightmares defensively as their dual threat was omnipresent all night. DeMar's jump shot was falling like rain and he shot an impressively-efficient 10 for 13 from the field. Sonny was a game high +19, and did a much better job shooting the ball than he had been doing of late.
Kevin Love had, as always, a solid game. It was anticipated that we were going to be "treated" to an angry All Star Game snubbed version of the NBA's leading rebounder, but Kurt Rambis informed him 30 minutes before the game that he had been selected by David Stern as an injury replacement for Yao Ming.
Instead we were treatedto "happy" Kevin Love, 20 points and 15 rebounds.
After Michael Beasley limped off the court in the 3rd quarter the Wolves became a completely different team. Without a primary scoring option the likes of Sebastian Telfair and Corey Brewer led a mini-run late in the 4th to cut the Raptors lead to 4. The Raptors responded with some solid team basketball and Amir Johnson finished off some flowing plays. If anything this season has shown that when this team decides to move the basketball and look for the best shot available, they are at their best.
Kurt Rambis' post-game remarks highlighted the importance of Toronto's starters.
"We didn't shut down anybody in their starting lineup. In all areas, their offense just completely dismantled what we wanted to do defensively"
The Raptors don't play until Tuesday which is when they will take their talents to Milwaukee. After extracting revenge on Minnesota for last week's defeat, their focus will now turn to doing the same against the Bucks.
- WWE wrestler Kofi Kingston was sitting courtside promoting an event at Ricoh Coliseum but he strangely disappeared in the 4th quarter. Think they realized he wasn't an actual athlete?
- Last week I highlighted the comparative attractiveness scale of Sota's cheerleaders to our Dance Pack and received some flack for it in the comments. I can irrefutably prove that the Dance Pack read that because they definitely brought their A-game in last night's win.
- I highlighted this earlier but DeMar's jump shot looked better than I have ever seen. His shooting mechanics seemed to be more fluid and decisive. Here's to hoping that the losing streak motivated him to spend more time in the gym working on his shot.
- Amir Johnson was an absolute beast in this game and his contributions in the past month or so have to get you excited as a fan.
- "Andrea Bargnani scores 30 points as Raptors end 13-game losing streak" is the Associated Press headline for the game report. No mention of Amir or Jose and you can be the judge of its validity.
- Leandro Barbosa participated in practice for the first time since his injury but did not suit up. The Brazilian Blur is currently listed as day to day.