TORONTO (CP) – Kyle Lowry and the Toronto Raptors made up for a sub-par road performance by continuing their mastery of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Lowry had 24 points to lead Toronto to a 94-89 victory before an Air Canada Centre sellout crowd of 19,800, the Raptors’ 10th straight home win over Minnesota and 17th in 18 head-to-head meetings. More importantly, it came just two nights after a disappointing 88-83 road loss to the Boston Celtics.
“It was a bounce-back game for us and we needed it,” Lowry said. “We did a good job in executing our gameplan.
“They made it close but we pulled it out.”
The Raptors captured a season-high sixth straight home victory. The last time they did that was Jan. 17-Feb. 10, 2010 when they won eight in a row. On Friday, Toronto wore its special Canadian Forces fourth jersey — camo green with black — as part of Armed Forces Night to improve to 10-8 at home.
Amir Johnson added 19 points for Toronto while Terrence Ross had 16 points and DeMar DeRozan scored 15 points.
Kevin Martin had 18 points for Minnesota (18-21), which has lost three straight and four of its last five to drop to 7-13 on the road. Kevin Love added 16 points.
A big key for Toronto was its long-range shooting. The Raptors hit on 11-of-24 attempts from beyond the arc — Lowry was 6-of-9 alone — while Minnesota was just 3-of-18.
However, it was Martin’s three-pointer — his second of the game — that helped the pesky Timberwolves pull to within 85-83 with just over a minute remaining. But DeRozan’s basket gave the Raptors a 87-83 advantage.
Then, after Minnesota failed to convert on offence, Lowry cemented the win with a three-pointer with 14.6 seconds remaining for a 90-83 advantage.
“It was a big shot,” Lowry said. “It was one of those shots where we could finally kind of relax a little bit.
“Everyone is just trusting each other, everyone has confidence in each other and if you miss (a three-pointer) you know you’ll probably get another one.”
Toronto averaged 108 points and made 43 per cent of its three-pointers in sweeping a three-game homestand before heading to Boston. But the Raptors were also solid defensively against a Minnesota team that was averaging 107.1 points per game.
“I thought they bounced back as a team from the other night,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey said. “I think we were disappointed that we got ambushed in Boston, they attacked us.
“They (Timberwolves) are a very good team, very explosive offensive team. Coach (Rick) Adelman, a lot of coaches in this league steal from him . . . I’m still stealing from him. He’s an offensive mind, he doesn’t get enough credit for it.”
Adelman, who coached Lowry for three seasons in Houston, had nothing but praise for his former player.
“He’s always played at a high level but he’s shooting the ball really well,” Adelman said. “A lot better than anytime from the three-point line, the floor and the free-throw line.
“That’s a big difference but he’s always been a solid player.”
As for Lowry, he said Adelman is by far his favourite NBA coach.
“Nothing against coach Casey but Rick is my favourite coach because he gave me my opportunity to show my skills.,” Lowry said. “He really is my favourite coach of all time.”
Toronto finds itself on a nice roll, having won 13 of its last 18 games. But that’s of little solace to Casey.
“I’m not satisfied and I don’t think the players are,” he said. “We’re not the hunted, we’ve got to be the hunter.
“If we don’t play (as) the hungry, desperate team, more nights like Boston are going to happen. I thought we played like an underdog tonight and we didn’t play that way against Boston.”
Johnson had nine third-quarter points to help give Toronto a 69-61 advantage but it was Lowry’s two three-pointers that put the Raptors ahead 67-53. They came after DeRozan converted a technical foul on Minnesota’s Corey Brewer after he received his fourth personal foul.
But Jose Barea hit three straight field goals before Ross countered to put Toronto ahead 69-59 late in the quarter. Barea’s two free throws put the Raptors’ advantage to eight points heading into the fourth.
Minnesota ended the second quarter on a 9-0 run to cut Toronto’s half-time advantage to 44-40. Nikola Pekovic anchored the late run with two field goals and a free throw en route to 11 first-half points while DeRozan and Lowry both added 10 points for the Raptors.
Toronto shot 44 per cent from the field (16-of-41) and held Minnesota to 39 per cent shooting (16-of-41). But the Raptors dominated from three-point range, hitting on 5-of-12 shots while Minnesota missed on all six of its attempts beyond the arc.
Toronto led 22-15 at the end of the first, hitting on 10-of-21 shots (47.6 per cent) from the field while Minnesota shot just 2-of-23 (26.1 per cent). The 15 first-quarter points was a season-low for a Raptors’ opponent this season.
Toronto surged into a 12-2 lead with a 10-0 run early in the first before Minnesota pulled to within 17-15. But Ross’s three-pointer and a field goal from Johnson late in the quarter gave the Raptors their seven-point advantage.
NOTES — Former Raptor Rudy Gay had a season-high 33 points in leading Sacramento past Minnesota on Wednesday night . . . The Timberwolves came into Friday’s game with a dismal 3-15 road record against Toronto all-time . . . Toronto’s next game is Sunday afternoon hosting the Los Angeles Lakers. Minnesota returns home to host the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, a squad the’ve lost five straight games to . . . Minnesota went 0-2 against Toronto last year, with Love missing both games due to injury.