Raptors 106, Timberwolves 100
A narrow victory over the woeful Minnesota Timberwolves did little to satisfy the struggling Toronto Raptors.
What it did do was buy them just a little bit of time to try fixing what has been going wrong lately.
Chris Bosh had 21 points and 10 rebounds to help the sluggish Raptors hand the Timberwolves their 13th straight loss, 106-100 on Monday night.
Andrea Bargnani had 19 points and seven rebounds for the Raptors, who beat the Timberwolves for the 12th consecutive time to move into a tie with Charlotte for the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference.
``We're not playing well and we think we're starting to turn the corner a little bit where we have better focus,'' coach Jay Triano said. ``I don't think we're playing great basketball, but we're starting to share it a little better.''
Al Jefferson had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost 19 of their last 20 games. They trailed 94-92 with 3:29 to play, but couldn't come up with any key stops down the stretch to end their skid.
``Our half-court defense let us down in the second half,'' Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said. ``We just couldn't find ways to get stops.''
Bosh broke his own franchise record with his 44th double-double of the season. It was also the 36th time this year he has had at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, the most in the league.
After losing eight of their previous 10 games to fall to eighth in the East, the Raptors got a little two-game breather on the schedule with trips to New Jersey and Minnesota, the two worst teams in the league.
They cruised to a win over the Nets on Saturday night, then outlasted the Timberwolves in a lackluster performance.
Antoine Wright and Sonny Weems scored 13 points each off the bench for the Raptors, who got just 10 points on 3 for 7 shooting from Hedo Turkoglu.
``With this type of team, we can't mess around,'' Turkoglu said. ``We can't let it slide. Games like this and New Jersey, we can't come out and joke around and take it easy because they've got nothing to lose.''
It almost cost them dearly.
Wayne Ellington scored 17 points and Jonny Flynn had 14 points and six assists for the Timberwolves, who are approaching the 15-game losing streak that followed a season-opening win over the Nets earlier this year.
Their latest loss followed a familiar script.
Trailing by one point at halftime, the Timberwolves stumbled out of the second-half gates yet again to fall behind big. Toronto opened the second with a 20-7 run to take a 66-52 lead.
The Wolves cut the deficit to three points three times in the final 90 seconds, but each time the Raptors got to the basket with ease to pad their cushion again.
``We were right there, but we needed one more stop and they'd hit a 3,'' Flynn said. ``One more stop and they'd hit a floater in the lane with the shot clock expiring. We're a young team and we have to learn how to find something from within to close games out.''
The Raptors sure didn't start as if a playoff spot were on the line. They sleep-walked through the first half, shooting 39 percent. Turkoglu only took one shot, and Bosh was the only player showing a sense of urgency on Toronto's side.
Bosh had 10 points and eight rebounds in the first half as the Raptors were clinging to a 46-45 lead, even though the Timberwolves shot just 38 percent and missed three wide open layups in the first 24 minutes.
``We have some tough games coming up and it's going to be a photo finish to the last day of the season,'' said Bosh, whose Raptors play Utah, Denver, Miami and Charlotte in their next four. ``It's really not going to be established until pretty much the last day. It could go either way, anywhere from 5 to 9. We have to make sure we dictate our own future instead of losing games and having to look at the scoreboard every night.''
NOTES: The Timberwolves waived forward Alando Tucker on Monday. Tucker only saw limited action since being acquired in a trade with Phoenix in December. ``He did everything right,'' Rambis said before the game. ``The decisions to not play him were solely on me.''... Love received a standing ovation upon entering in the first quarter from a boisterous group of UCLA band members who were in town for the NCAA women's tournament. ... Turkoglu finished with 10 points, six assists and four rebounds in 25 minutes.