Game #75 is in the books. Tonight, the Toronto Raptors were able to take care of business, defeating the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-99, moving to a 45-30 record on the season. For about eight minutes early on, it appeared as if the Raptors (sans Kyle Lowry) were in for a matchup that would’ve been a lot been a lot tougher than most would think. Fortunately, after the lack of defensive stops early on, the Atlantic Division champs were able to tighten things up versus their relatively inexperienced opponents. After this, Toronto never looked back. Professional effort. Nothing to go crazy over, but a good win nonetheless— especially seeing as the team as finally finding some rhythm down the stretch.
A+ may seem a little high in terms of an offensive grade, but the reality is that the Raptors deserve it. The skill level opponent shouldn’t sway the grade if the Raps are doing the right things. The players were sharing the rock, there weren’t too many moments when the ball stuck, and extra pass was the norm. The Raptors didn’t need any particular guys to come out and have huge scoring efforts because the offensive approach was so balanced. While Lou Williams led the way with 18 points, the team had seven players score in double digits. This is usually a recipe for success. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. This didn’t happen by accident— as a team, the Raptors had 25 assists on 42 made shots. Amir Johnson and Patrick Patterson were surprisingly huge in this aspect, dropping six dimes apiece. On top of this, the men in red converted 13 out of their 30 looks from long range. As Matt Devlin often says, “the three is key”. It’s argue to against it tonight, the shots were dropping. No complaints here.
Outside of the game’s opening moments and garbage time, the Raps were pretty solid on defense. Part of this was a result of fatigue combined on Minnesota’s part though. The rebuilding T’Wolves only had eight players see the floor, so that may have been part of the reason why their offense had a scrimmage feel to it at times. Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine, and Chase Budinger had solid scoring nights (25, 22, and 19 points respectively), but there wasn’t much else that Minnesota was able to do. If not for Dwane Casey clearing the bench for the final frame, the Raptors definitely would’ve won by 20+.
The effort on the glass was okay tonight. The Raptors won the battle on the glass 34-32. The low totals were the result of the teams shooting 55.3% (Toronto) and 53.2% (Minnesota) from the field respectively. Tyler Hansbrough was huge in this aspect, pulling down a season high 11 boards. Zach LaVine led the way for the Wolves, pulling down seven boards of his own.
Game Ball – Tyler Hansborough
One memorable moment from this game came early on when Coach Casey pulled Jonas Valanciunas after allowing one too many offensive rebounds for the opponent. As soon as Psycho T was inserted, he brought a much needed energy, raising the team’s intensity as a whole. Maybe it’s something to do with the Final Four taking place this week. Hansborough knows how to play this time of year. We’ll deserved double-double.