The Toronto Raptors and the Minnesota Timberwolves, two teams with almost the same won-lost record, were neck and neck with each other all night. At the end, Ricky Rubio missed the tying free throw, Amir Johnson grabbed the rebound, and the Raps escaped Minneapolis’s Target Center with a 2-point victory.
This game, which featured 10 lead changes and 7 ties, was so tight it squeaked. Each team tried 15 3-balls, and grabbed 40 rebounds. Even the T’Wolves big run of 13-zip early in the open the third quarter only pushed the largest margin to 11. The Raps refused to fold, and clawed back to enter the final quarter down two. Rudy Gay, colder than a Minnesota forest in January early, found his stroke in the second quarter. He would finish with 26 points, which included a make of his only free throw. The T’Wolves took 24 more FTs than the Raps, for which I’m sure the refs have a perfectly valid explanation.
DeMar DeRozan’s jump shot continues to plague opponents, as he buried a number of his long 2s (hated by stats geeks and coaches alike, but the shot is his bread and butter). He also made but one trip to the free throw line, converting an and1 opportunity late which nudged the Raps into a lead they would not relinquish.
Jonas Valanciunas would probably score his match against Nikola Pekovic a draw. Minny’s massive and talented centre scored 24 points, with several of his baskets coming off brilliant passes from the sparkling Ricky Rubio, who had 12 assists. Pekovic went to the line 16 times, as many as the entire Raptors’ team– that seems fair, doesn’t it? JV scored 12 points, with just 2 field goals. He was hampered by foul trouble, which gave Aaron Gray a chance for some run. Our bench-weary second stringer had more fouls (5) than points (4), but at least held the fort.
Terrence Ross emerged from hiding to score 7 points, including 1 of 2 from distance, and Kyle Lowry continued his string of steady, unremarkable games with 11 points and 7 assists.
The Raps (on a 2-game win streak – oh joy) are in Milwaukee tonight.