Kyle Lowry tried his darnedest to ensure Minnesota sports fans weren’t on a high when they rolled into tomorrow’s Vikings-Eagles game. Unfortunately, despite Lowry’s season-high 40 points, the Raptors were not able to overcome a second-half barrage in a 115-109 defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. This, even though the T-Wolves were without Jimmy Butler and Jamal Crawford — both out with injury.
The first half for the Raptors felt like a good movie plagued by script problems. There was lots to like, as shots were dropping and key pieces were there, but something just didn’t feel right. Toronto shot 54.5 percent in the half, and had 14 assists, but Jonas Valanciunas quickly got himself into foul trouble, and Dwane Casey was forced to throw Lucas Nogueira in there to hold over the rotations.
Even with the nine turnovers and five offensive rebounds allowed, the Raptors held a 62-54 lead at the half. It was a two-man show by that point as Lowry and Andrew Wiggins traded buckets to keep both teams moving — Kyle had 20, to Wiggins’ 22. And like JV, Karl-Anthony Towns also struggled with foul trouble.
But you know how cars stall, right? It’s an analogy you might have heard before. It still holds true. Moving on to a second one, the Raptors just could not build any momentum in the second half.
The third quarter once again plagued the Raptors, as a sluggish effort out of the halftime gate let the Timberwolves tie the game up within five minutes. It was a back-to-back for Toronto so perhaps some exhaustion was to be expected, but it led to foul after foul. The first half 11-point lead evaporated, the Raps’ shots didn’t fall so easily (35 percent in the third), and they couldn’t keep the Wolves off the glass.
At the end of three quarters, the Raptors were down 4, outscored by 12 in the 3rd quarter.
The two-man game continued though, as the most consistent effort from the Raptors remained Kyle Lowry’s. Unfortunately for Toronto, a rejuvenated Towns showed up with his first-half foul trouble in the rearview mirror. DeMar DeRozan’s 20 points were not enough to counter the additional punch from the Wolves.
Down the stretch, it was a game of something-nothing runs, as the teams traded buckets and took turns with the lead. Kyle and DeMar had clutch possessions for the Raptors, but a pair of threes from Minnesota’s young stars (and aided by a superb sixth man performance from Marcus Georges-Hunt) put the game away for the Timberwolves. Lowry finished the game with 40 points, on 14-of-25 shooting (including 6-of-10 from three), plus five assists and five rebounds. It somehow wasn’t enough.
Tonight was something the Raptors have shown us before. Serge Ibaka faded down the stretch after shooting perfectly from the field for the first half. C.J. Miles couldn’t hit an outside shot; same for Pascal Siakam (though he couldn’t hit any shot at all). Delon Wright put in 12 points on some pretty drives, plus six rebounds and six assists, but it wasn’t enough either.
Despite being on the second night of a back-to-back, the Raptors were always in this game. But here, the complete effort fell short. Toronto was dominated on the boards again, and just were too tired to make that final push for the win. It’s disappointing, given the absence of Butler, but the Raps’ will have to restart the engine and drive on to the next one.