|Toronto Raptors host the Minnesota Tinberwolves at the Air Canada Centre on February 4, 2011. Raptors' Trey Johnson. (Michael Peake/QMI AGENCY)
Twenty-three days and 13 losses later, the Raptors ended the skid.
Still shorthanded, still injured, the Raptors found a way back into the win column on the strength of solid shooting nights from its top two scorers and an across the board willingness to make the extra pass in a 111-100 win.
Unlike six days earlier when the Raps missed 67 of the 101 shots they attempted, the roster was zeroed in on this night hitting for 54.8%, the first time they have been over 50% for a game since Jan. 12, which was the game that began the 13-game skid.
Andrea Bargnani, who surpassed the 20-point mark just five times in that 13-game winless stretch, had 24 after three quarters in this one and wound up with a game-high 30.
DeMar DeRozan, who had 43 points combined in his past four games, went off for 20 on an efficient 10-for-13 from the field last night.
The willingness to share the ball began with, who else, Jose Calderon who had 19 of the season-high-tying 35 assists by the Raptors in the game.
That 19 was a career high for Calderon and tied the franchise high set by Damon Stoudemire.
The 19 assists was also one more than the entire Minnesota lineup.
But every member of the starting five had at least two assists in the game and all but Calderon, who spent the evening setting up his teammates, hit the double digit mark in scoring.
For the Timberwolves, it was the long-range shooting that kept them in the game and had this one up for grabs right into the final minutes.
The T-Wovles hit 12 of its 30 three-point attempts. The Raptors, meanwhile, managed three successful three-point attempts of the 11 they tried.
The Timberwolves, like the Raptors, are a team that treats defence mostly as a rumour and there was plenty of evidence of that Friday night from both sides.
The Minnesota offence also took a hit when Michael Beasley limped off the floor with about three minutes to go in the first half after coming down on a teammateís foot. Beasley didnít even wait for the trainer as he limped the length of the floor, bypassing the Raptors trainers who were trying to slow him down and right down the tunnel with the Minnesota trainers in pursuit.
He did not return.
Kevin Love, the Wolves leading scorer and rebounder didnít have the chip on his shoulder of an all-star snub to motivate him ó he learned just before tipoff that league commissioner David Stern had chosen him to replace the injured Yao Ming ó but he clearly didnít need it.
Love has been the model of consistency this season and continued that trend last night with his 35th consecutive double-double, pulling down 15 rebounds and hitting for 20 points to lead the Wolves.
The Raptors were without the services of Leandro Barbosa for Fridayís game. Barbosa, who had missed the previous 11 games heading into Friday, had a bit of a setback on Friday after suggesting on Thursday that a return was very much in the cards for him agianst the Timberwolves.
Unfortunately for Barbosa, he woke up Friday with his strained right hamstring feeling much worse than it had a day earlier and was scratched from the lineup just before tipoff.
Barbosaís loss was Trey Johnsonís gain. Johnson, whose 10-day contract with the Raptors expires on Saturday, got 19 minutes in Fridayís game and produced a bench-high 10 points.
A loss last night would have moved the losing streak into second worst of all time territory. The longest losing streak by the Raptors is 17 and was set in the 1997 season.
The team has had two other 13-game losing streaks in 2002 and 1998.