The Toronto Raptors wanted nothing more than to forget about Wednesday night's fiasco of a loss to the Boston Celtics and tonight's match-up against the Minnesota Timberwolves gave them the opportunity to do just that. Despite being out of the Western Conference's current playoff picture the Wolves are a talented basketball club and it took a grind-it-out performance by the Dinos to get the win tonight, 94 to 89.
Game MVP ball goes to Kyle Lowry who finished with 24 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists and more importantly, answered the call for Toronto every time his team needed a big play. Charges, key assists and step-back three-pointers were all part of the repertoire, the latter on full display with his team clinging to a four-point lead with 35 seconds left to play. Lowry calmly made his move, then nailed the dagger in front of the Minnesota bench to ensure a W, the club's seventh in their last 10 games and sixth straight at home, in a streak that now goes back to nearly Christmas.
It wasn't a pretty win though as both teams shot around 43 per cent from the field, and the clubs combined for 42 fouls. Toronto jumped out to a nice 22 to 15 first quarter lead but Minny closed the half on a 9-0 run to draw within four. The Raps managed to weather the storm, and some suspect foul calls however to enter the final quarter up 69 to 61.
In the fourth quarter though, the Raptors' offense went south as the club took far too many contested jump shots and the Wolves slowly crept back into it. In particular, Toronto's bench crew had a tough night scoring only 16 points, 11 of which were via Patrick Patterson. Key bench member John Salmons also left the game with back spasms in the third Q so suddenly Toronto was in a dog fight.
But it was Kyle Lowry to the rescue.
It was Armed Forces night at the Air Canada Centre and Lowry made like a general, guiding his club to the victory.
For Minny, Kevin Love had 16 points and 12 rebounds but was hardly dominant, and Ricky Rubio didn't even see the game's final minutes, his coach electing to use the more offensively efficient JJ Barea. Nikola Pekovic was a load inside and Kevin Martin had 18 in the loss, but the club just couldn't make plays when they needed to most, and hit only 3 of 18 long-range attempts.
Up next for the Raptors is a date at home with the Lakers where the club hopes to put on a more well-rounded offensive display. DeMar DeRozan, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas were a combined 13 for 37 in this one, although the latter two did a very solid job defensively.