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DeRozan, Lowry, and Valancuinas trio lead Raptors over Timberwolves

TORONTO –The Minnesota Timberwolves traveled southeast to Toronto, Canada and fell to the Raptors 124-110. DeMar DeRozan scored 27, Kyle Lowry added 25, and Jonas Valanciunas finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors.

Zach Lavine led all scorers with 29. Andrew Wiggins had 25 and Karl Anthony-Towns scored his 13th double-double of the season, with 17 points and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves.

The Raptors won the opening tip but watched the Timberwolves jump off to their usual youthful blazing start, taking an 11-2 lead. The Raptors clawed their way back into it, taking advantage of Minnesota’s unforced errors on offense. Wiggins, who grew up in Toronto, impressed the hometown by scoring 11 of the Wolves first 21 points; including splitting two defenders along the baseline and finishing with a thunderous slam. The T-Wolves played tight defense in the first quarter, holding Toronto’s two All-Stars DeRozan and Lowry to a combined 6 points.

Toronto’s first string struggled which prompted Coach Casey to turn to his bench. They responded by forcing the Timberwolves into 3 turnovers in 8 possessions. Toronto capitalized by scoring off each of the turnovers. The Wolves reserves then turned up the energy which led to hot shooting. They maintained a lead under the direction of rookie point guard Kris Dunn.

Lowry, DeRozan, and 7’0” center Valancuinas began to gel halfway through the second quarter. After a bad offensive possession in which T-Wolves forward Gorgui Dieng was forced to take an off-balance 3-pointer as the shot clock expired, DeRozan took the outlet pass and beat the defenders down the floor. His slam dunk erupted the crowd and his teammates.

Toronto took its first lead of the game on an 11-0 run with 2 minutes before the half. Raptors forward Demarre Carroll exploded with 3 point shots on three consecutive possessions. The T-wolves quickly regained the lead as guard Zach Lavine ended the scoring drought with a 16-footer at the shot clock buzzer. The teams traded baskets and went into halftime all square at 59. The high scoring first half was to be expected as both teams rank in the lower half of league team defensive efficiency and in the top half of offensive efficiency.

The Raptors opened the second half with a 6-0 run. The T-Wolves rallied around center Karl Anthony-Towns, getting back into the game on 10 of 12 team shooting. Towns scored 15 in the third quarter, which led to an 89-88 Wolves lead.

Early in the final quarter, Kris Dunn grazed Lowry’s shooting arm on a three-point attempt. Lowry buried the three and the subsequent free throw. Valancuinas continued to muscle his way inside and dominated the smaller, less physical Minnesota players. The Raptors pulled away, outscoring Minnesota 36-21 in the final 8 minutes. The Wolves played with a lot of heart and grit but were just out-maneuvered by the more-experienced Raptors.

The Toronto Raptors and Coach Dwayne Casey closed out a six-day home stand; with their only loss coming from the reigning NBA champions, the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Timberwolves continue their longest road losing streak against an opponent, losing for the 13th straight time in Toronto. The Raptors improve to 15-7 and the Wolves drop to 6-16.

Banner image – Chris Young/The Canadian Press via AP

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