Coming off what was widely regarded as a disappointed and somewhat embarrassing defeat at the hands of the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, the Toronto Raptors put that behind them and bounced back in a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves, beating them 94-89
The Wolves came into the game the second highest scoring team in the league, averaging 107.1 points. The Raptors defence was able to hold them to just 89 points on 44% FG shooting and 17% from 3 (giving up just 3 from beyond the arc). After the buzzer sounded, the Raptors had won their 6th straight at home, and their 10th straight home game against the Wolves.
The main threat coming into this game against the Timberwolves—especially given that the Toronto Raptors had been out-rebounded by 14 and gave up 20 rebounds to Jared Sullinger in the Boston loss—were the two bigs in Minnesota’s front count.
Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic have exceptional rebounding ability both offensively and defensively. In a successful performance, the Raptors held the two big men to a combined 18 rebounds in the game, both players below their season average.
Head coach Dwane Casey was pleased with the work his big men put in saying: “I thought the guys did a good job, you’re talking two of the best offensive rebounders of the league.” —– “Our guys did a heck of a job, I thought Amir Johnson did a marvelous job inside, JV battling Pekovic all night, that was a handful. Patrick (Patterson) came in there, I thought Chuck Hayes came in and gave us 9 rebounds it was huge for us. Our big guys stepped up and did what they were supposed to do.”
Offensively the Toronto Raptors were led by Kyle Lowry, who was named the player of the game, scoring 24 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists and an incredible 6 of 9 from 3 point range.
Coach Casey was complimentary of the potential All-Star point guard after the game saying: “He’s playing at a high level, this is the highest level he’s played. The best I think he’s played, I don’t think he’ll tell you that. He’s grown into that role of being a leader, he’s matured as a man, fatherhood, being a husband, that type of thing has really matured him.”
The Raptors seemed to be in control and in the lead for most of the game, again with their team ball movement/passing, accumulating 26 total assists to Minnesota’s 16.
However it became a little too close for comfort late in the fourth, that is until Lowry hit his 6th 3-pointer of the game to seal the win with 15 seconds remaining.
Lowry talked about the shot post game: “Demar, he drew two, kicked it to me, and it was a big shot. It was one of those shots where we could finally relax a little bit, and I was just excited for our team.”
Although the Toronto Raptors are victors in 4 of their last 5 games, Dwane Casey still acknowledged the changes from game to game comparing tonight’s win to the loss on Wednesday:
“Somebody keeps saying we’re the hunted, we’re not the hunted, we gotta be the hunter. We’re still the underdog, we’re starting two second year guys, and we still got to be the hungry team, if we don’t play the desperate hungry team, more nights like Boston’s going to happen if we don’t play that way.” Adding, “I thought we played like the underdog tonight, we didn’t play that way against Boston, we have to continue to play that underdog role every time we take the floor.”
It was Canadian Armed Forces night at the Raptors game, with players sporting camouflage jerseys and each player introduced in the starting line-up was accompanied by a member of the Canadian military.
— Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) January 18, 2014
Here is the full post-game press conference with coach Dwane Casey: