Quick Reaction: Raptors 112, Wolves 116

owie wowie.

MIN Timberwolves116Final
Box Score
112TOR Raptors

A. Baynes23 MIN, 6 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 3-7 FG, 0-2 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 0 +/-

Played less than three minutes to start the game, and he fouled a bunch without protecting the rim. He was a little better when he entered the game in the second quarter. Missed a triple by a mile, but his defense and rebounding were improved. Then he fell off a cliff again in the second half on defense, failing to help, close out, or do much of anything to help on that side. Just can’t defend the pick-and-roll at all, allowing guards to maneuver around him with ease. Then, magically, in the fourth quarter, was much better at being in the right place. He’s not going to clean up teammates’ mistakes, but he can fit in while everyone else is rolling.

F. VanVleet37 MIN, 22 PTS, 3 REB, 6 AST, 0 STL, 8-21 FG, 4-12 3FG, 2-2 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, -15 +/-

Helped very far off of Ricky Rubio on the defensive end to clog the lanes, but Rubio hit four triples, and the Raptors didn’t cool him off. He hit a pull up jumper to open the scoring, then another off the catch from a Siakam pick-and-roll. His finishing around the rim is always an important barometer for his success, and he showed off with a cheeky spinning left out of the pick-and-roll to create space. He was really the only threat Toronto had in the first half. Was much less consistent in the second half, which, coincidentally, is when the Raptors fell apart. His defense almost saved Toronto in the clutch, as he and Bembry combined to force an out of bounds call with the Raptors down 2, 12 seconds left, and Wolves ball.

K. Lowry40 MIN, 24 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 2 STL, 6-12 FG, 2-4 3FG, 10-12 FT, 0 BLK, 4 TO, 2 +/-

Deferred early, and committed some uncharacteristic turnovers in the first quarter when he did try to create. Still, shot well from deep on a night where those bombs were scarce. His defense was an IV drip in the fourth quarter. He drew free throws in the home stretch, too. Had an extremely clutch theft of an offensive rebound off of one of his own misses. Tough to grade: what do you give a player who is bizarrely absent for much of the game and then a foundational element of the fourth-quarter almost comeback?

P. Siakam36 MIN, 18 PTS, 8 REB, 6 AST, 2 STL, 6-19 FG, 1-3 3FG, 5-5 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, -6 +/-

Very aggressive to start. Missed a layup, then hit an open hook on the spin. That two-foot righty hook has become his go-to scoring move, and it’s quite reliable, as far as iso moves go. Then missed another easy one, but in general, the fact that he created easy looks is more indicative of good play. At one comedic moment he stripped Jaden McDaniels in the open court only to get swatted by McDaniels on the ensuing drive, then committed a turnover with a moving screen. He passed well, but didn’t offer too many other orbital contributions offensively, missing his jumpers. Turned that around in the second half. He drove, hit his jumpers, and continued to pass well. His process was basically solid, even if the results weren’t wonderful. He just missed some layups, which includes a practically uncontested attempt to tie the game with a few seconds remaining. So, results have to matter more than process at some point.

N. Powell36 MIN, 22 PTS, 5 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 8-12 FG, 2-3 3FG, 4-5 FT, 0 BLK, 1 TO, 9 +/-

Started poorly but got on track in the second quarter, creating layups for himself and drawing fouls. He has gotten so much better at gathering the ball away from prying hands this season and last, which cuts down dramatically on his turnovers and clunky misses around the rim. Then started moving well off the ball in the second half, cutting, curling, and creating and finishing layups. His defense was, as with the rest of the team, problematic. But was the furthest thing from the biggest issue in this one.

D. Bembry21 MIN, 9 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 3-6 FG, 0-2 3FG, 3-5 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-

Threw a number of sloppy passes shortly after entering the game in transition and semi-transition. He did, however, play very solid defense with the point guard+bench groups that fought Toronto back into the game. As he always seems to do, created points out of thin air by cutting at opportune times, in the half-court and in transition. He didn’t hit his 3s, which puts him over the top as a contributor, but he was still a positive. Was basically the only player that played defense in the third quarter. Closed the game over Boucher, and he earned it.

C. Boucher18 MIN, 6 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-6 FG, 0-2 3FG, 2-2 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, -8 +/-

Though his defense against Karl-Anthony Towns was solid early, Towns eventually learned to overcome him, though, which was problematic, as the Raptors needed to send multiple defenders at all times, and Minnesota hit their jumpers. He didn’t give much on the offensive end, missing the few shots he took. Didn’t close the game, and he didn’t earn the chance to close. Not a great outing.

S. Johnson13 MIN, 0 PTS, 4 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-2 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 1 TO, 1 +/-

Was quiet in the Lowry+bench lineup in the first half, but he chipped in on the offense glass and was more solid on defense than some of his compatriots. Was part of Toronto falling apart in the second half, but it wasn’t really his fault. He was overtaxed on the offensive end, although the group not defending at the point of attack fell as much on his shoulders as on everyone else’s.

T. Davis11 MIN, 5 PTS, 1 REB, 3 AST, 1 STL, 2-6 FG, 1-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-

Did not opt to create maximum chaos at every opportunity, which was a nice change. He missed some shots early in his stint, but they came in the flow of the offense, so that wasn’t a big deal. Then he threw a lob pass and hit a corner triple, and the Raptors suddenly had a lead. That stretch, perhaps more than any other this season, simulated his contributions that were commonplace last season. Was very quiet in the second half, though.

Nick Nurse

The team didn’t play the game with any energy or pop. They only remained competitive in the first quarter behind shot-making from VanVleet and the fourth quarter behind shot-making from Lowry, and some of that has to rest with the coach. The defensive structure was poor, as Toronto played far too high on Anthony Edwards in the pick-and-roll, letting him waltz around defenders to reach the rim. A dud, all around.

Things We Saw

  1. Wow everyone’s defense is bad to start. This has very much been a theme. Just getting annihilated on the wing, giving up easy drives. Their transition defense was discombobulated, too, as pretty well every Raptors struggled to choose an angle to defend multiple players at the same time. They picked it up in the fourth quarter, of course, but why should the Raptors need a fourth-quarter comeback to even be competitive with the worst team in the league? Let alone to lose.
  2. The fouling very much remained an issue. Baynes, Siakam, and VanVleet all picked up two first-quarter fouls. It faded down the stretch, but the team can’t hit its defensive stride if it’s fouling. That’s an important element that needs fixing.
  3. Who are the Raptors going to be? They’re clearly no longer the team that out-works their opponent on every night. They’re no longer the team that plays lockdown defense. They have tried to be the team that outscores opponents, but they don’t have the talent to win a lot of games that way. They don’t have an identity right now, which is just one of multiple problems at the moment.