Raptors defeat Timberwolves

Published 8:32 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

MINNEAPOLIS — The Toronto Raptors used their depth, ball movement and scoring balance to wear down a worn-out Timberwolves team.

Lou Williams scored 18 points to lead a balanced Toronto offense as the Raptors defeated Minnesota 113-99 on Wednesday night.

Six players scored at least 13 points for the Raptors, who shot 55.3 percent from the field. DeMar DeRozan had 17 points, Terrance Ross 16, Jonas Valanciunas 15, Greivis Vasquez 14 and James Johnson chipped in 13 for Toronto.

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“When the ball’s moving, you can know that the ball’s going to find you,” Ross said. “You just have to be ready. It’s always fun when the ball’s moving and you have an open shot.”

Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points, Zach LaVine had 22 and Chase Budinger added 19 for Minnesota, which lost its fourth straight. The injury-riddled Wolves featured a starting lineup of three rookies and two players the team picked up off waivers during the season.

Meanwhile, four Raptors subs played at least 22 minutes apiece on a night when the starters got plenty of rest.

“They keep on wearing you down,” Minnesota head coach Flip Saunders said. “You try to relax a little bit and you’re a half-step slower contesting on 3s and they’re making shots. That gets you into a whirlwind.”

Toronto led by as much as 31 in the fourth quarter.

The game was tied at 24 late in the first quarter before Toronto blew it open with a 26-7 run. Vasquez, who went 4-for-5 on 3-pointers, opened the second quarter by scoring the Raptors’ first eight points, and Johnson added six straight to help push Toronto’s lead to 50-31.

The Timberwolves cut the lead to 14 at the half, but the Raptors erased all doubt with a 17-4 run to open the third quarter. After hitting 10 of 19 3-pointers in the first half, the Raptors went to work inside, with Valanciunas hitting four baskets in the low post early in the third quarter.

Still, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey wasn’t entirely pleased with his team’s defensive effort after watching Minnesota shoot 53.2 percent from the floor.

“We’ve got to have a defensive approach, a defensive identity with effort, with focus, each and every night we step out,” said Casey, whose team pulled even with Chicago for third place in the Eastern Conference playoff race. “Because in this league anybody can beat anybody.”


Raptors: Toronto finishes its season with five of its last seven games against teams fighting to get into the playoffs. Casey said he welcomes the challenge. “I think that’s going to be good for us because that’s going to let us know how hard the playoffs are going to be,” Casey said. “These teams are going to be playing at a high level.” … The Raptors hit 3-pointers on three consecutive shots in the first quarter. Vasquez, Terrence Ross and Amir Johnson connected before Ross missed on their next trip down the floor. … G Kyle Lowry (back) sat out his fourth straight game. … The Raptors have won 20 of their last 21 against Minnesota.

Timberwolves: G Kevin Martin (hamstring) missed his sixth consecutive game. Minnesota also had F Gorgui Dieng (concussion), G Ricky Rubio (ankle), G Gary Neal (ankle) and F Kevin Garnett (knee and illness) on the injured list. … Wiggins continued his ironman streak, playing in his 75th straight game. “About halfway through (the season) he made it a point that he wanted to play 82 games,” Saunders said, “and he’s kind of been set on doing that.”


No coach wants to use injuries as an excuse, but it’s almost unavoidable for Minnesota.

“We could talk about something technically . but we’re just undermanned,” Saunders said. “I feel bad for our guys because we can’t give them reinforcements, more bodies to give them rest. They’re both physically and mentally exhausted.”


Raptors: Visit Brooklyn on Friday.

Timberwolves: Host Orlando on Friday.