Quick Reaction

Quick React: Toronto Raptors 114 – Minnesota T-Wolves 105, Feb. 24

Minnesota 105 Final
Recap | Box Score
114 Toronto
L. Scola 13 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-1 3FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | -14 +/-His first play of the game (a steal off Wiggins that led to an easy bucket) was not indicative of his production. Having to defend the size, speed and versatility of Towns and Dieng was beyond his capacity (at least tonight). Thankfully Casey gave him a quick hook in the third opting for Patterson.

J. Johnson 19 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-2 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -18 +/-I’m torn on his performance given he was unable to slow Wiggins, but I felt he played him well. Hey it’s Canada Night and Wiggins was determined to go off at home. I also like JJ’s continued ability to dribble penetrate and either score an easy basket or assist to JV.

Early in the game Wiggins was getting the better of the match-up (18 points) but he was much better defensively the second half holding Wiggins to 8 points. His grade is above average given the 2H defense was critical holding Wiggins to 2 points in the 4Q specifically.

J. Valanciunas 19 MIN | 6-11 FG | 0-0 3FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | -14 +/-Never got into an offensive flow picking up 3 quick fouls and the T-Wolves young mobile bigs only serve to highlight JV may have grown BUT he’s got a ways to go defensively. He still managed 14 points and 7 rebounds, but was demonstratively better when Towns was seated.

Side note: listened to the Zach Lowe – Marc Stein post trade podcast today – Lowe reports the Rockets called to inquire about JV (presumably for Dwight Howard) and the Raptors hung up the phone!

K. Lowry 39 MIN | 6-14 FG | 3-8 3FG | 6-6 FT | 3 REB | 6 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 21 PTS | +1 +/-He started slow, but for anyone questioning if he’ll bring it for the post All-Star break and playoffs go watch the replay of the second half of this game. It was his scoring, assists, and defense that made the difference in the Raptors gaining the victory. He and DeRozan scored 20 of the Raptors final 27 points.

He is the undisputed leader of this team PERIOD. The chemistry developing between Lowry and Joseph is palpable with most of the multi passing plays occurring when both are on the court. Can I just reiterate once DeMarre Carroll returns I envision this will become more the norm than the exception.

D. DeRozan 38 MIN | 11-19 FG | 2-2 3FG | 7-8 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 31 PTS | +5 +/-I know the game is over, but go check out Blake’s pregame articles as there’s an awesome comparison of DeRozan and Wiggins (at the same stage of their career). As for the game, kudo’s to Sam Mitchell for game planning to hit DeRozan hard every time he came into the paint and bravo to DD for continuing to drive. *See note in 5 things

P. Patterson 35 MIN | 3-8 FG | 1-4 3FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 7 PTS | +23 +/-Games like tonight point to the reason Casey should at least consider starting Patterson especially versus mobile athletic bigs. For the second game in a row he grabbed an offensive rebound and threw down a vicious put back dunk(3:27 of 3Q).

He continues to struggle with his confidence on his shot over thinking it too much, but his defense earns him a B.

T. Ross 19 MIN | 3-8 FG | 3-7 3FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +15 +/-Was contributing on both ends of the court UNTIL he got thrown out of the game at 1:44 of the third quarter. Whether you agree with the spotty and inconsistent whistle or feel it was equal on both sides the reality is Ross and the entire squad should have learned from the game when Lowry got tossed to keep their mouths shut. He was headed for a high score, but I can’t rationalize anything above a C for his selfish move

B. Biyombo 29 MIN | 3-7 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 3 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | +23 +/-The Patterson – Biyombo front court combo was much more effective than Scola-JV and again points to the need for an upgrade this coming summer. Kiyan Sobhani’s article (today) also points out the Raptors will also be in tough having to re-sign Biyombo after the season he’s had. I think he’s fond of the 6ix though!

D. Wright 0 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +0 +/-Not in game long enough to comment.

C. Joseph 22 MIN | 6-8 FG | 1-2 3FG | 5-8 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | +21 +/-In my opinion Joseph is quickly becoming the glue of the squad. While Lowry is the guts, and Biyombo might have fairly earned ‘the heart’ descriptor Cory is the guy who makes many of these combinations work. His leadership of the reserves has developed to a point where the bench is the more reliable defensive unit. Plus I love the growth he continues to demonstrate especially on his change of speed and change of direction offense.

N. Powell 5 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 3FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +3 +/-This may well be the night we look back on and refer to as Norman Powell’s coming out party. No he didn’t register huge numbers or play big minutes, but he forced the turnover that led to the Raptors taking the lead which they never relinquished from that point on. It’s also the first time he’s played within the flow of the game and only time I couldn’t point to him hurrying or trying to force something.

Dwane Casey
We can assume the reason he’s not acquiescing to starting Patterson over Scola has to do with the ever growing bench chemistry. That said, he was pretty quick to pull Scola from the game. Overall he had the match-ups he wanted (despite of the foul trouble issues) and called his time-outs at the appropriate points in the game. He’ll no doubt use tonight to rev the Raptors defense up for their match against the Cavaliers, but this T-Wolves team is no joke… SERIOUSLY lol

Four Things We Saw

  1. A New York Knicks site I was reading today said it’s a no-brainer you go after DeRozan every time over Nic Batum! And this was the common overwhelming opinion. For a player everyone considers to predominantly get his points via iso heavy plays why NYK would want him in the triangle alongside Melo just proves how coveted DD will be this summer.
  2. Following the 2014-15 All-Star Break Utah implemented their lock down defense and developed their identity. Much of their success was due to the burgeoning confidence of Rudy Gobert based on his All-Star performance. I mused the same thing might occur with these young T-Wolves with the Big 3 youngsters bringing 3 of the 5 individual awards back to Minnesota. LaVine won Rising Stars MVP and the Dunk Comp while Towns won the Skills Challenge. In fact I should say 3 out of 4 because none of the young Wolves played in the big game to be in the running for the Annual Westbrook award.
  3. The late Flip Saunders must be smiling in heaven; every one of his young prospects (drafted or traded for) has demonstrated growth. The roster is a veritable feast of youthful athleticism starting with Canadian Andrew Wiggins and most assuredly Rookie of the Year – Karl-Anthony Towns. The others: Zach LaVine, Gorgui Dieng, Shabazz Muhammad (love him), Tyus Jones (and even Adreian Payne on certain nights) are all significant contributors who have gained invaluable experience learning while playing. This T-Wolves team is loaded and while Danny Ainge has a host of picks in Boston and decent assets to barter with Minnesota has a built in Big 3 organically growing together much like OKC and GSW previously did. Man this team is going to be fun.
  4. Remember when Kevin Martin was bewitching teams in Sacramento with his unconventional shot? He’s not in the plans for the future of the Wolves who’ll likely buy him out and release him in time to join a playoff team. Notably: Kyle Lowry recently said it was Martin who helped him with his 3 point shot while teammates in Houston. Coach Rick Adelman told Lowry he’d never get significant minutes unless he developed his shooting. Lowry said seeing Martin be successful from range with his wonky stroke helped him understand it’s more about the practice than the form.
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