Raptors Hold Off Wolves, 104-97

Raptors Hold Off Wolves, 104-97

Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Corey Brewer finished off the 2011 season with the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, and he had the luxury of playing for a Denver Nuggets squad over the past two seasons that had enough success to warrant two playoff appearances and the No. 3 seed in the West a year ago.

A common thread? Taking care of business in your own back yard.

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Wolves vs. Raptors

The Wolves didn’t do that this week. They dropped both of their preseason games at Target Center—the latest a 104-97 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Saturday night. The Wolves came out flat for the second straight night, then went cold in the fourth as Toronto avenged a loss the Timberwolves handed them at the Air Canada Centre three days ago.

“It’s the second time in a row we’ve lost at home,” Brewer said. “In my opinion, you’ve got to win at home. I played on a team last year, we went 38-3 at home. We got the third seed. Like I told the guys, we’ve got to win at home.”

Taking in the atmosphere in what was a pretty somber preseason postgame locker room, it’s clear the Wolves as a whole understand what Brewer is talking about. But there’s a difference between knowing it and doing something about it, and Minnesota now has a full week of practice to try and rectify things before they have another game.

Even in their win over Milwaukee on Thursday, the Wolves started a bit sluggish offensively by missing their first six shots. On Saturday, it was more of the same as Minnesota (2-2) hit one of their first nine shots against Toronto. In the fourth it was more of the same as Minnesota went 4-of-15 from the field.

There are new faces in this starting lineup, and the Wolves were without Kevin Martin for the second straight game thanks to a sore Achilles. Still, the wolves are looking for a spark out of that first unit that isn’t quite there just yet.

“Our first unit is flat, so that’s a challenge to us,” Wolves forward Kevin Love said. “I thought we played better on both sides of the ball in the second half, but starting the game we just need to bring it more. We need more energy, we need to know what we’re doing offensively and pick it up defensively. Overall, we just need to play better.”

Minnesota didn’t get its first lead until the second quarter, then began taking control in the third. They opened up their biggest lead midway through the frame, turning a tie game into a 74-66 lead thanks to a Love 3-pointer, a Brewer lay-up and another long 2 by Love.

But the Raptors came back in the fourth and extended their own lead thanks to some clutch shooting off the bench. Carlos Morais hit a 3-pointer to extend Toronto’s lead to six after Minnesota made a late rally, and another 3-pointer by Austin Daye put the Raptors up nine with 39 seconds to play.

The end result was coach Rick Adelman telling his team they need to decide what type of unit they want to be this year. Games like this could, ultimately, be a turning point if they respond correctly over the next week of practice.

“Maybe it’s going to help us…it wake us up,” Adelman said. “I know it’s the exhibition season and everything else, but we’re trying to get better. And we really can’t get better if we don’t go out with better effort than we’ve shown.”

Love led the way with 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Nikola Pekovic had 13 points and Brewer had 12. Derrick Williams had 11 points, while Ronny Turiaf and J.J. Barea each had seven. Ricky Rubio had three points, six assists and five rebounds.

For the Raptors (3-1), Aaron Gray had 2 points while Tyler Hansbrough had 11. Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Landry Fields each had nine points, while D.J. Augustin and Dwight Buycks each had eight.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

Love was far and away the team’s top performer on Saturday night. He scored 28 points and added 11 boards for his first double-double of the preseason. Love finished the game shooting 9-of-19 from the field and added six offensive rebounds in 28 minutes. But he also did the little things on the offensive end that Adelman and the coaching staff are hoping to see throughout the year. He had a nice jab step on the perimeter that opened up enough space to feed Pekovic inside for an easy basket, and he also had a nice outlet pass to Corey Brewer that sprung the Wolves’ small forward in transition. Look for Love to continue facilitating this season.

Highlight of the Night

Derrick Williams takes home top honors tonight. He took a pass from a driving J.J. Barea on the baseline and threw down a pretty reverse jam at the 8:49 mark of the second quarter. That dunk actually gave the Wolves their second lead of the night (35-34)—the first coming just 30 seconds earlier. Williams finished the night with 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting in 20:51 on the court.

The Numbers Game

  • The Wolves regrouped nicely in the second quarter after a tough shooting performance in the first. Minnesota was 1-of-9 out of the gate. They finished in equally tough fashion, shooting 4-of-15 in the fourth.

  • There were four delay of game calls in tonight’s game.

  • Tonight’s contest was full of free-throw opportunities. The Wolves were 35-of-50 from the stripe, while the Raptors were 25-of-34. The Raptors were called for 35 personal fouls on the night.

  • Toronto turned the ball over 26 times on the night.

  • Minnesota played 12 players tonight during the game. Rick Adelman said prior to the contest he was looking to play 10-11 players. All 12 players scored, with six of them scoring seven points or more.

  • Quote of the Night

    “It doesn’t matter if it’s preseason, it doesn’t matter if it’s in a park. You’ve got to come out and play our hardest all the time.” —Wolves forward Corey Brewer

    Looking Ahead

    Tonight was the last Wolves preseason game until Oct. 20 when they play the Celtics in Montreal as part of the 2013 NBA Canada Series. Over the next eight days, the Wolves will get what amounts to a second Training Camp of sorts. They’ll have a chance to regroup, recover from any injuries they might have and look at film before playing the final three preseason games of the year. Their final preseason slate includes Boston in Montreal on Oct. 20, at Philadelphia on Oct. 23 and at Detroit on Oct. 24.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter, and join the conversation at WolvesNation.com