MINNEAPOLIS – Kevin Love had his NBA-leading 42nd double-double of the season with 21 points and 12 rebounds, and the Minnesota Timberwolves beat Toronto 103-87 on Saturday night to send the Raptors to their 11th straight loss.
The Timberwolves, last in the NBA in defense, held Toronto to 33.7 percent shooting — the lowest this season for both sides. This is the fifth-longest losing streak in franchise history for the Raptors.
Minnesota ended a six-game losing streak, holding Andrea Bargnani and DeMar DeRozan to a combined 7-for-35 shooting. Bargnani had 15 points and DeRozan finished with just six points while going 2 for 11. After scoring 20-plus points in five of his previous seven games, DeRozan had his lowest output since Dec. 10.
This was only win No. 11 for the Wolves, but 10 of them have come by nine points or more. This was the second-biggest.
Both teams got to town late the night before, with the Raptors coming from Canada after an overtime loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and the Wolves returning home after a one-game trip to Utah where they lost to the Jazz — their 19th consecutive defeat to a Northwest Division opponent.
The rebuilding Raptors, well, there's a team that's more in their league. Though they've been remarkably competitive with — and excruciatingly close to beating — several of the NBA's best, the Timberwolves have shown little confidence they can complete games. The Raptors are having the same problem in the post-Chris Bosh period of this franchise's underwhelming history.
Love had 11 points in the first quarter and followed Jonny Flynn's consecutive 3-pointers with a swish from behind the arc of his own to stretch Minnesota's lead to 45-32 late in the second quarter. DeRozan missed all three shots he took from the floor and had only two points at the half, thanks much to Corey Brewer's harassment on defense.
Still just 21, the speedy, flashy DeRozan has the potential to be Toronto's next true star, but as coach Jay Triano noted before the game, he remains a work in progress. Raptors coaches order DeRozan after each practice to dribble from end to end on an empty court to hone his finishing skills.
"You forget sometimes that DeMar had one year at Southern Cal," Triano said. "Who knows how much coaching some of these guys get in the AAU? A lot of times it's just game after game after game. You need to make sure that some of the fundamentals are worked on because a lot of these guys don't have that base."
Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis also spoke of the "little things" that plague his team, that he and his staff continue to harp on to help the development of this fledgling bunch.
NOTES: Though they only play twice per season, the Timberwolves stopped a 12-game losing streak against the Raptors. They are, however, 9-6 at Target Center against them all time. ... Triano coached Love on the national team last summer. "He was as hungry going after it as anybody I've seen in the game in quite some time," Triano said. He can't vote for him for the All-Star team, however, because they're in opposite conferences. "I'd put him on my ballot. Is Minnesota east enough?" ... Though his statistics aren't quite as stunning as Love's, Bargnani is in a similar bind as a standout on an unsuccessful team. "When you're talking to coaches and you're asking coaches to make a determination on who is an All-Star, they're going to look at the records regardless," Triano said, "and I think they should."