The Raptors are now 2-0 in the Las Vegas Summer League after a tight 82-80 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Unlike their shellacking of the Kings on Friday, this afternoon's game posed something of a challenge. The Wolves' Kris Dunn, their newest rookie, threatened to do something great for stretches. But, then again: the Raptors have Norman Powell and he does not get perturbed. He just reminds you he's Norman Powell. And for Toronto, that was enough.
For the game, Powell finished with 29 points on 7-for-15 shooting, including 4-for-8 from three and 11-for-12 from the line. He also grabbed eight rebounds and had three assists. Then add on top of that the fact that Powell had to check Dunn for the majority of the game. It was Dunn who largely powered the T-Wolves, finishing with 21 points (on 9-for-17 shooting), 9 rebounds and 4 assists of his own. By that tally, the second year man Powell -- particularly with some late dagger threes -- got the better of the matchup.
The story for the rest of the Raptors was a mix of rookie learning experience and relative composure. For the former, we turn to Jakob Poeltl who had an up and down game for the day. The positives: Poeltl blocked three shots, grabbed five boards and had six points; he also refused to back down even as Adreian Payne went at him relentlessly, and, in the second quarter, Dunn gave him a shot to the mouth with his shoulder that drew blood. Poeltl checked out for a second and then came right back, God love him.
Meanwhile, Bruno Caboclo continued his, hmmm, uneasy (?) campaign for relevance. As per usual, the three ball was there for Bruno -- he made 2-for-5 on the day -- but he also tried to mix it up by putting the ball on the floor a few times. Coach Jama Mahlelala said there were still some slow-to-make decisions for Bruno, his comfort level wavering, but he was happy Bruno got to go through the experience. On that count, Jama's not wrong. Caboclo's presence was more thoroughly felt on the court today, but he still does not always seem to be playing with force or confidence.
Finally, the unsung hero of the game was actually Delon Wright. By the box score he only had seven points (on 3-for-8 shooting), to go with three rebounds and one assist, but his decision-making and composure guided the team when it got stuck. (Shoutout also to Fred VanVleet who helped steady the team whenever Delon went off the floor.) It was Wright who hit a driving layup in the dying seconds to put the game away. He also pulled out a few Eurostep moves, a behind the back pass in transition and some stifling defense. Not bad for the third string point guard, in any case.
Still, what we'll remember is Norm being Norm. At this point, Raptors fans are on the edge of their seat to see what he'll do next. He's talented, and the chip on his shoulder is for real. But most of all: Norm is cool. Mahlelala said afterwards that as the Raptors were heading into the third quarter, down two and the game still very much in question, Norm told him: "Don't worry coach, I got you."
On to the next one. The Raptors play the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow on Monday, July 11th at 6:30 EST.