Fans of the Toronto Raptors have had to endure a lot of poor finishes over the past few weeks, and Wednesday’s 112-109 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at Target Center was yet another spoke in the wheel of frustration for Canada’s lone NBA club.
Simply put, this was a game the Raptors let get away. Fast. The Dinos were on cruise control in the first half, leading 63-53 after two quarters. They started to show some holes in the third quarter (particularly on defense) before completely melting down in the final frame.
Canada’s own Andrew Wiggins and dominant big man Karl-Anthony Towns steamrolled the Raptors by finishing with 31 and 29 points, respectively. DeMar DeRozan, who had 30 of his own, tied the game with 29 seconds remaining before Tyus Jones answered back with a huge 3-pointer to put Minny ahead for good. Kyle Lowry had a chance to tie things up with time expiring but couldn’t get a good look due to some smothering defense, causing Toronto’s mini two-game winning streak to come to a halt in the process.
The biggest question for Raptors fans will be Dwane Casey’s usage of Jonas Valanciunas. JV has been on a hot streak of late (20.3 PPG and 9.3 rebounds in the last three games) and played great for the first three quarters, but Casey sat the Lithuanian in the fourth until the last 33 seconds of the game. Old habits die hard, and we’ve seen this from Casey before, but the bench boss’s lack of confidence in his starting center shot the Raptors in the foot tonight.
This game was troubling for a number of reasons, but the reality is the Timberwolves are a very beatable opponent. The sky is the limit for a Minnesota roster that’s loaded with potential, but the Raptors are clearly the better team right now, and these are games they need to win. Prior to tip-off, Toronto had won 22 of its last 24 meetings vs. the Wolves.
If you’re wondering how important Patrick Patterson is to this team, this contest is a great example of why. Patterson’s absence was felt throughout the game, but it was painfully obvious how much his contributions were missed during the ugly second half collapse. Heal up, Patman.
Toronto will have a few days off to re-focus before returning to action on Sunday against the Detroit Pistons. What’d you think of the tilt? Have your say in the comments.