Raptors Respond to T-Wolves Counterpunch For Sloppy Victory

The Toronto Raptors reached .500 for the first time this season with an ugly victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves
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It appears the Toronto Raptors can handle a counterpunch.

All season that’s been an issue for the Raptors. They’ve jumped out to early leads, but whenever an opposing team has clawed back, erasing a double-digit lead, Toronto has seemed to wilt. Coming into Friday night’s game the Raptors were 1-13 when trailing through three quarters. Then, against the same team they collapsed against on Sunday, just five days earlier, the Raptors handled the Minnesota Timberwolves run and threw the knockout punch, a 3-pointer from Terence Davis to clinch a sloppy 86-81 victory on Friday.

Toronto did what it has done repeatedly this season in the first half. Norman Powell caught fire, scoring 22 points before the break and building up a 19-point lead just halftime.

But when the third quarter rolled around, all that momentum disappeared. The Raptors went over 10 minutes without a field goal. They watched as a 57-41 third-quarter lead was turned into a 68-63 fourth-quarter deficit.

"Just really having a hard time scoring the ball, getting good looks for a stretch, and then when we didn’t get good looks we couldn't make any of them," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "Just a tough moment of the game, where we just couldn't score and it made it hard to guard up too."

This time though, the Raptors stuck around.

Pascal Siakam stepped up battling through an inconsistent scoring night with elite defence down the stretch.

"He was really really digging in there late," Nurse said. "Pascal was moving and keeping his man in front of them and switching being aggressive and challenging. I think he got a piece of two 3-pointers tonight."

With tired legs really setting in, Nurse turned to Davis and Stanley Johnson off the bench to start the fourth. He had seen enough from Malachi Flynn and Matt Thomas and was hoping for a jolt. While it didn't come immediately, Davis came through late.

With the win, the Raptors moved to .500 on the season.

Up Next: Philadelphia 76ers

The Raptors will return to Tampa to start a two-game set with the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday night at 7 p.m.