(Toronto, On) The Toronto Raptors get their third consecutive win and as they rout the Minnesota Timberwolves 122-107 at Scotiabank Arena.
This win improves the Raptors to 35-36 on the year and 23-13 at home. They remain ninth in the Eastern Conference but are one game away from being .500.
With Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Nowell, and Karl-Anthony Towns all out tonight, the Raptors had an opportunity to take advantage of a short-handed Timberwolves squad. The Raptors and Wolves traded buckets for the first five minutes until the Raps went on a 9-0 run behind new duo Fred VanVleet and Jakob Poeltl. Both players took over, combining for 27 of the Raptors 32 points in the first quarter. Toronto controlled the pace until Naz Reid checked in; he made his first five shots, dropping 14 points in the second quarter while single-handedly outscoring the Raptors entire bench.
Kyle Anderson was the main distributor for the starting lineup, finishing with five assists in the game. The Wolves hung around, as Jaden McDaniels stepped in the shoes of the missing Edwards, cutting the deficit to four at the 3:40 mark. The Raptors ended the frame perfectly as OG Anunoby dropped 11 points in the quarter, Gary Trent had three steals, and the starters scored a total of 62 out of 66 points.
The momentum was in the Wolves favour after the half as McDaniels took over and dropped four threes. After a timeout by Nick Nurse, Toronto went on a 15-3 run, led by Pascal Siakam who scored 10 points each in the second and third quarters. The Wolves energy was deflated entering the fourth quarter as the Raptors controlled things down the stretch. The bench came alive as Trent and Chris Boucher combined for seven steals. All five of the Raptors starters scored in double figures once again and took a 15-point lead to defeat the sixth place Wolves.
VanVleet was the leading scorer for the Raptors Saturday night, dropping 28 points, while dishing out seven assists. Siakam had his second double-double in a row, finishing with 27 points, and 10 rebounds. Trent had his third double digit point game in a row, as he finished with 19 points and five steals. Anunoby continues to flourish in his new shooting guard role, dropping 15 points on 6/9 shooting. Poeltl handled the Rudy Gobert matchup well, achieving his fourth straight double-double with 14 points, and 11 rebounds.
The Timberwolves were playing on their second night of a back-to-back, and they managed well. Although Coach Chris Finch had to go deeper into the rotation, the squad had 41 bench points and looked aggressive through the first three quarters. Naz Reid took over to end the first half and finished with 22 points in 20 minutes. McDaniels matched up with Siakam well, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. Gobert had a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Anderson did a bit of everything, scoring 12 points, seven rebounds, and five assists. A low-energy fourth quarter resulted in a loss, however a valiant effort from the Wolves.
Edwards, who injured his ankle during the first quarter of Friday’s double OT loss to the Chicago Bulls, showed up to Scotiabank Arena in a walking boot. Coach Finch didn’t give an answer on the timeline and the severity of the injury. It is truly bad timing for this injury to occur as the Wolves are in a similar situation as the Raptors, fighting for a play-in/playoff spot. The hope is for Karl-Anthony Towns to return in the next couple of weeks and hold on for a postseason appearance. With the New York Knicks and Atlanta Hawks up next, the Wolves look to get back on track and end their three game slide.
The Raptors earn another crucial win, as this is their 18th consecutive win against the Timberwolves at Scotiabank Arena. All five starters, including Trent, and Boucher were in the + category as the team shot 53% from the field and outnumbered the Wolves in steals, (11-5). As the roster is finally healthy, the time is now for Toronto to build on-court chemistry and find combinations that benefit in each lineup.
With 11 games remaining, the Raptors are building momentum at the right time. For the second time this season, they see themselves one game away from being .500 as they chase seeds seven and eight.
The Raptors haven’t been .500 since 13-13. The squad now flies to Wisconsin, Milwaukee to face the best team in the league.
Canadian and Toronto native Nickeil Alexander-Walker scored four points and added two assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals in 18:56 of playing time for the T-Wolves. NAW shot 2-8 for the game.
Toronto Raptors vs. Minnesota Timberwolves boxscore click HERE.
VanVleet: 28 PTS 3 REB 7 AST
Siakam: 27 PTS 10 REB 6 AST
Trent: 19 PTS 3 REB 5 STL
Reid: 22 PTS 4 REB 1 AST
McDaniels: 18 PTS 6 REB 1 AST
Gobert: 14 PTS 12 REB 3 AST