The banged-up T’wolves limped into the ACC last night, & didn’t enjoy their visit. The Raps found their groove in Q4 to run away from Minnesota by 19. The score is deceiving, as the Wolves were very much in the game until part-way through Q2 when their run of early season injuries continued. J.J. Barea, who was giving the Raps fits with his penetration & shooting, had just scored on a lay-up when he got tangled in a scrum & was kicked in the face by a teammate as he hit the floor. Barea didn’t return, & the Raps guards had no further problems with their opposite numbers. The game tempo slowed down after that, which seemed to favour the Raps, who able to establish their half-court offense. Balanced scoring late in the time-clock, after lots of passes, often resulted.
Kyle Lowry once again strutted his stuff. Little Big Man crammed the scoresheet, with 22 points, 5 assists, 7 boards, & 3 steals. Ten Raps had points in this game. Alan Anderson’s welcome 18 included 4/8 from distance. DeMar DeRozan hit jump shots & drives to finish with an efficient 22; Bargnani was anything but (4/16) for 10. Aaron Gray didn’t hit the floor, as Coach Casey played small ball for much of the game. Amir Johnson & Ed (Bad Hands) Davis each played 23+ minutes. Jonas Valanciunas continued his on-the-job training, with limited success against another giant Centre, Nikolai Petkovic. JV’s lack of upper body strength will need work, as the big-chested men are able to create shooting & rebounding space for themselves. Petkovic showed some deft inside moves to score 15, but it was Andrei Kirilenko who led his team’s modest scoring with 17, missing only 1 of his 7 shots. Barea had 9 in 7+ minutes, which gives you an idea of the impact he was having before he went down.
Fans at the ACC were excited early, but the apprehension was palpable. However, there was no repeat of the Indiana meltdown, as the Raps handily won Q4, 26-13. Terrence Ross finally scored his first NBA bucket, on a rainbow jumper from just inside the 3-ball arc as time was winding down. Coach will need to work him into meaningful minutes soon. Landry Fields, the Raps’ Invisible Man, had 5 points, 3 rebounds, & 0 (zero) assists in 21+ minutes. Terrence, can you answer the call?
Our guys showed they can nail down a victory. Let’s hope it’s the first of many, as the miserable part of their schedule commences with a trip to Oklahoma City.