Raptors Beat Wolves, Win Third Straight
Toronto 98, Minnesota 94
MINNEAPOLIS, Feb. 13 (Ticker) -- Mike James and Morris Peterson were the latest backcourt to have their way with the Minnesota Timberwolves.
James scored 27 points and Peterson added 20 as the Toronto Raptors posted a 98-94 victory over the struggling Timberwolves.
James and Peterson made it another rough night, combining to make seven of the Raptors' 11 3-pointers.
"The guards (we've played the last couple games) are very crafty," Timberwolves All-Star forward Kevin Garnett said. "And their coaching staff is aware of things that we are doing (defensively). Tonight the 3-point shooting killed us. If we control the three-point line, we win this game by 10 points easily . We have to address this backcourt thing."
James also had a hand in helping the Raptors keep the lead down the stretch, making a clutch 3-pointer, beating center Mark Blount on a drive to the basket and converting two free throws.
"We wanted Mark Blount to switch onto James," Timberwolves coach Dwane Casey said. "But we didn't want him to get up into him. Mark got a couple steps too close."
"I had him half way there," Blount said. "He just made a tough shot over me."
The shot from the arc by James came with 2:18 remaining and gave the Raptors a 92-88 lead. The veteran point guard all but sealed things by beating Blount off the dribble for a layup to make it 96-92 with eight seconds left and - after a basket by Trenton Hassell - he hit two free throws with four seconds to go.
"Execution down the stretch, that's been our story the last couple games," Casey said. "We haven't done the little things in the last couple minutes of the game."
Rookie Charlie Villanueva added 16 points for the Raptors, who led the entire second half en route to their third straight win.
"Charlie is shooting the ball as well as anyone right now," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "This young man has an unbeliveable amount of talent. We have to continue to push him and he's got to learn how to push himself."
The Raptors were able to win despite a quiet night from All-Star Chris Bosh, who battled foul trouble and finished with just eight points.
"Kevin (Garnett) did a good job of contesting me for low-block position," Bosh said. "They were helping from the weak side too."
However, Toronto made up for Bosh's game by shooting 51 percent (35-of-69) and going 11-of-17 from the arc.
"It shows this team's character when our best player is double-teamed and having a rough night that other players step up," Peterson said. "Mike (James) stepped up, Charlie (Villanueva) stepped up. That's what it's all about."
Garnett collected 23 points and 19 rebounds for Minnesota, which fell to 0-4 on a five-game homestand and lost for the seventh time in eight games overall.
"Each one (of those losses) hurts," Minnesota guard Anthony Carter. "But we still have a lot of games left."
"I've yet to see a team that doesn't go through a stretch of difficulty," Garnett said. "This is ours. We just got to battle through."