The Toronto Raptors defeated the Minnesota Timberwolves 100-95 in a game that was far closer than it should have been. It was a very Canadian night at the Air Canada Centre. The night was highlighted return of Canada’s prodigal son Andrew Wiggins who poured in a very respectable 15 points on 6 of 9 shooting, despite picking up 5 fouls. The Raptors struggled to put up a consistent effort defensively against a very offensively challenged and banged up T-Wolves squad. The Raptors allowed 32 points in the first quarter, thanks in large part to allowing incredibly open three point looks to three point snipers Chase Budinger and Kevin Martin. Jonas Valanciunas has been a man on a mission lately and tonight was no difference. When Valanciunas was on the court,the Raptors always seemed to create a level of separation when the big man was on the court, finishing with 15 points and 15 boards on 7 of 9 shooting. One could argue that the Wolves lost the game far more than the Raptors won it. They turned the ball over at crucial times totalling 18 for the game. Kyle Lowry also left late in the 3rd quarter and did not return with what was ruled a lower back contusion. The Raptors certainly have a lot to work after this game going into a critical conference matchup in Chicago vs the Bulls on Friday. Offense: B- The only reason this grade is so high is the fact that the Raptors dished out a total of 25 assists on the night. The ball moved fluidly and with a purpose. The Raptors shooting only 44% to a terrible defensive team that only had eight dressed players (three of which being rookies) shows that they played way down to their opponents level. As the season winds down and the playoffs approach, this is a key issue that needs to be addressed. Defense C+ While the Raptors held the Wolves to only 100 points, that is more of an indictment on the talent level on the Wolves than to the stinginess of the Raptors defence. The Raptors allowed Kevin Martin to light them up from deep. Allowing the Wolves, a team 25th in field goal percentage to shoot 48% for the evening isn’t the kind of defence that contender needs to play. Rebounding: C+ No team really dominated the other on the glass, but the Raptors were outworked on the glass 45-39. Allowing the likes of Chase Budinger to come away with 8 boards definitely isn’t a winning recipe. Luckily for the Raptors, Valanciunas was a monster on the glass coming away with 15. Game Ball: Jonas Valanciunas
The proud papa only played and inexplicable 23 minutes but he still managed to post a monster performance. The energy seemed to swing in the Raptors favour when Valanciunas was on the court. As Leo Rautins said in Lithuanian, pass the damn ball to Jonas.