Like the rest of us, professional athletes can be accused of mailing it in at times in our day jobs. Hell, I'll be on vacation from my full-time job for nearly two weeks starting on Friday and I'd be lying to you if I said I've been the most motivated as the week draws to a close. The Toronto Raptors played like a team that was also looking forward to some time off on Wednesday, as they fell 117-112 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in a dispiriting effort at Target Center.
The Raptors, who enter the All-Star break at 35-17 (second in the Eastern Conference), held a 68-55 lead at the half and looked to be on their way to earning their 16th victory in 17 games. But the Wolves came out on fire to start the third quarter, and a Raptors' lead that reached 18 at one point rapidly evaporated.
Edging the young Timberwolves 89-88 entering the fourth, the Raps once again had no answer for the suddenly explosive home side which was paced by phenomenal rookie Karl-Anthony Towns. The Kentucky product dropped a game-high 35 points and 11 rebounds in a dominant performance, once again proving why he'll undoubtedly collect some hardware as Rookie of the Year at the end of the season.
The Dinos' defense was simply not up to snuff in this contest, however they didn't do themselves any favours in multiple regards. The referees called the game extremely tight and the T-Wolves made the Raptors pay in their 53 attempts from the charity stripe. The lone bright spot for Toronto was DeMar DeRozan, who shot 11-for-19 from the field in a 35 point effort.
Heading into the matchup, Minny had dropped 20 of their last 21 meetings with the Raptors - the most lopsided series in the NBA. At 17-37, the Wolves won't be contending this year, but nights like this one should rightfully strike fear into the rest of the Association as their young nucleus grows together.
When all is said and done, this game will likely be a blip on the radar in what's been an extremely strong start to the campaign for the Raptors. As the focus shifts to the Big Smoke for All-Star Weekend, there's going to be plenty of good vibes around the city that will hopefully translate into more success after the break.
Due to the extended layoff, Toronto does not return to action until Feb. 19th when they face a team that always seems to have their number in the Chicago Bulls.
What did you guys think of the game? Leave your spicy hot takes in the comment section.