Cool-hand Raptors

Chris Bosh tries to get through Timberwolves defenders during first half action in Toronto on...

Chris Bosh tries to get through Timberwolves defenders during first half action in Toronto on Tuesday. (Sun Media/Stan Behal)

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

Raptors head coach Jay Triano has been hounding his player all season to play better defence. And last night, wearing retro Toronto Huskies uniforms, they certainly did that.

Which was good, because the Raptors couldn't shoot, particularly from three-point range.

The Raptors hold the NBA record for most consecutive games with a three-point basket, with 883. The streak began on Feb. 26, 1999 against, ironically enough, the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Last night, in a 94-88 victory over the 'Wolves, the Raptors were shooting 0-17 from beyond the arc, and were close to blowing the streak, when centre Andrea Bargnani nailed one with just over four minutes left in the fourth quarter.

Toronto ended up shooting 2-for-21 from three-point range and 32% from the field. But Triano was all smiles afterward, because his team kept Minnesota to 37% shooting and played hard, heading to the free-throw line a season high 48 times, converting on 40, also a high.

They also were aggressive on the boards, grabbing a season-high 54 rebounds.

"I think it's beautiful," said Triano, when asked about his team's "ugly" win. "I wouldn't take away any of the shots that we took. It seemed like there was a lid on the basket.

"But we told our guys in training camp, if you play good defence, even on nights when you struggle making shots, you're going to stay in games long enough to find a way to win them," he added. "Our defence kept us in it. That's three games in a row we have held (the opposition) under 40% field-goal shooting. I think we're starting to dial in a little bit."

The turning point came with 5:59 left when all-star power forward Chris Bosh drove to the basket, scored on a reverse layup, was fouled by Al Jefferson and then nailed the free throw to put Toronto up 78-75, and the Raptors did not give up the lead for the rest of the game.

Soon after, Toronto forward Hedo Turkoglu stole the ball from Minnesota's Jonny Flynn and scored on a dunk for a 86-84 lead and then Antoine Wright nailed a three for a five-point lead and the game was all but settled.

The win extended Toronto's win streak to three games and improved its record to 10-13. The loss dropped the Timberwolves to 3-18.

The Raptors were without the services of starting point guard Jose Calderon, who has a sore hip. They did have Bosh and Bargnani, both of whom were forced to leave Monday's practice early because of a head cold and sore ankles respectively.

Jarrett Jack started at the point for the first time this season, and played well, scoring 17 points with eight assists and seven rebounds.

"I think these type of wins build character and show character," Jack said. "You're not playing like you are capable of, but you have to find a way to gut the victory out. It wasn't pretty, but it goes down as a W and that's the important thing."

The Toronto bench also was largely ineffective, scoring a total of 10 points, while Minnesota's Kevin Love scored 18 himself off the bench.

Bosh finished with his NBA-leading 19th double-double, with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Turkoglu finished with 16 points and eight rebounds.

The Timberwolves starting centre Al Jefferson pulled in 11 rebounds and 12 points.

STEVE.BUFFERY@SUNMEDIA.CA


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