The Toronto Raptors extended their franchise best winning streak to 15 games, downing the new-look Minnesota Timberwolves 137-126 at Scotiabank Arena Monday night.
The Timberwolves revamped their roster at the trade deadline, most notably adding point guard D’Angelo Russell from Golden State Warriors in return for Vaughan, Ontario’s Andrew Wiggins. The Timberwolves came into this one fresh off a 142-115 dismantling of the L.A. Clippers.
Raptors center/forward Serge Ibaka was forced to sit out tonight’s game due to illness. Kyle Lowry was back in the lineup and showed no ill effects from the neck injury that forced him to miss Saturday’s game against Brooklyn. The Raptors point guard made his presence felt early, scoring 14 points and adding four assists en route to a 40-36 Toronto lead after one quarter. The Timberwolves continued to display the offensive burst they’ve enjoyed with their new lineup and with both teams displaying little at the defensive end of the floor, Minnesota, behind Russell’s 16 first half points, led 76-75 at the break.
Having given up the most first half points to an opponent all season while committing 15 turnovers, you can imagine the tone of head coach Nick Nurse’s half time chat. Whatever the Raptor head coach said was well received, for the Dinos came out with renewed defensive energy to start the second half. OG Anunoby was a force at both ends of the floor, scoring 16 of the Raptors 32 third quarter points while adding seven rebounds. The Raps held the Timberwolves to 19 points and took a 106-94 advantage into the fourth quarter.
The Timberwolves promptly went on a 12-2 run to start the final stanza to cut the lead to 108-106 just over three minutes in. The Raptors dug in however behind all-star forward Pascal Siakam who poured in fourteen of his game-high 34 points in the final period.
The Raptors shot a scorching 57.3% from the field including 17 of 33 from beyond the arc. The Raptors transition game proved too much for the Wolves to handle, Toronto holding a decisive 35-10 advantage in fast break points. Siakam added six rebounds and five assists to go with his 34 points and was six for eight from distance. Anunoby finished with 25 points on an outstanding 10 of 13 from the field with 12 rebounds, three assists and three steals. Lowry also had a double double, with 27 points and 11 assists. Forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson played a strong two-way game, often matched against all-star centre Karl-Anthony Towns. The Raptors forward had 21 points and six rebounds. Towns led the Timberwolves with 23 points and ten boards while Russell had 22 points.
The win improves the Raptors record to 40-14, six and a half games behind the front running Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference. With the loss, Minnesota falls to 16-36, second last in the West. The Raptors will go for their sixteenth straight win Wednesday night in Brooklyn when they take on the Nets.