Many players have helped Toronto build a three-year run of dominance against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Contributions from a variety of sources are now keeping the Raptors among the Eastern Conference's top teams.
Following another outstanding performance from their reserves, the Raptors look to extend a seven-game winning streak against the lowly Timberwolves when the teams conclude their season series Wednesday night.
Toronto (31-24) hasn't lost to Minnesota (12-43) since a 108-97 defeat on Jan. 21, 2004. The Raptors won the first game between the teams the following season, and haven't lost since.
Toronto has used a different starting lineup in each of its seven games during its run against Minnesota, including a 105-82 win on Feb. 10 in the teams' first meeting this season.
The Raptors, who have one of the best scoring benches in the league at 34.1 points per game, finished with 42 in that game against the Timberwolves. Against Indiana on Monday night, Toronto's reserves had 55 points in a 102-98 win.
It was one of the best games the Raptors have gotten from their bench this season, led by Carlos Delfino's 23 points and T.J. Ford's 16. In fourth place in the East, Toronto will continue to look to its bench down the stretch of a grueling regular season.
The Raptors seemed happiest with Ford's performance against the Pacers. The speedy guard added seven assists in 26 minutes, the most he's played since missing 24 games with an arm stinger. He played two more minutes than starter Jose Calderon and was in the game the entire fourth quarter.
"With our guys getting healthy, I think we now have a second-team punch with T.J. getting into shape and into rhythm," Delfino said. "It opens things up for us offensively, and it sure can change our game."
Calderon has played well in Ford's absence, averaging 14.2 points and 9.6 assists in 41 starts, but Raptors coach Sam Mitchell insists there's no controversy at point guard.
"When T.J. comes into the game, he gives you a different look, and when Jose comes into the game, he gives you a different look," Mitchell said.
The Wolves, meanwhile, have been getting mediocre play from point guard Sebastian Telfair, who averages 9.6 points and 6.0 assists a contest. It's Minnesota big man Al Jefferson that will give Toronto the most trouble, but the Raptors match up well with Chris Bosh in the middle.
Jefferson and Rashad McCants scored 22 points, Randy Foye added a season-high 20, and Minnesota beat Utah 111-100 on Tuesday night.
If Minnesota hopes to be playoff spoilers down the stretch, it will need Foye's perimeter scoring to continue to complement Jefferson. He rebounded from a terrible performance in Sunday's loss to Dallas, when he finished with two points on 1-for-6 shooting.
"We just have to be patient," Wolves coach Randy Wittman said. "There's probably going to be another down before there's another up with Randy. This game is all rhythm and confidence."
Foye, the seventh overall pick in 2006, has averaged 9.7 points while shooting 37.7 percent in 12 games since returning from a knee injury.
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