Ugly, but a win for Raps

MIKE GANTER, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:41 AM ET

MINNEAPOLIS ó Hedo Turkoglu probably summed it up best.

Midway through the third quarter, Turkoglu was back on defence as the Minnesota Timberwolves were making their way up court and could clearly be heard saying: ďThis ainít even (bleeping) basketball.Ē

It was that ugly. So ugly that not even the players could bear to watch, and based on the show they put on, some of them werenít paying much attention at all.

From a spectatorís point of view, it was the type of night where if you didnít have a cup of coffee in your hand, you were in jeopardy of nodding off.

Turkogluís review of the nightís proceedings actually came at a time when the Raptors were finally putting together a bit of a run, but it didnít make the review any less accurate.

Nor did the fact that the Raptors still hung on for an 106-100 win that moved them into a tie with idle Charlotte for seventh spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Raptors come home from this short road trip with a pair of wins, but the long-term effects could be devastating.

The Raps won both games despite sloppy and, at times, indifferent basketball.

Chris Bosh bailed them out on Saturday night in New Jersey with a huge second half.

Monday night in Minneapolis, the Raptors put together just enough runs to hold the 14-57 Timberwolves at bay.

Similar efforts against either the Utah Jazz on Wednesday or the Denver Nuggets on Friday could produce the kind of lopsided defeats that send teams spiralling right out of the playoff hunt.

The Timberwolves closed to within two points with 4:14 left in the game after the Raps had been up by as much as 14 points.

Following a timeout, the Raptors came down and hit back-to-back three-pointers from Turkoglu and Antoine Wright, then gave up a triple to Ryan Gomes and then got an open jumper from Andrea Bargnani to get the lead back to seven with 2:24 remaining in the game.

Even then the Wolves werenít done, getting to within three with 22 seconds left on a pair of Al Jefferson free throws.

Jose Calderon sealed it with a free throw to bump the lead to four points with 17.8 seconds remaining.

The first half was the type of basketball you get when two teams match up and neither one of them seems particularly interested in winning a game. At least the Timberwolves are through playing for anything of any consequence this season.

Sure there are contracts for next year and potential playing time, but their playoff hopes ended long ago.

The Raptors, on the other hand, came into the night 21/2 games in front of the ninth-place Chicago Bulls and a full game behind the Miami Heat for sixth.

As talent-starved as the New Jersey Nets are, they werenít in the kind of funk on Saturday night that the Wolves came into the Mondayís game.

The Wolves had lost their past 12 and 18 of their past 19.

And yet the Timberwolves stayed right with the Raptors through the first half, trailing by just a point after the first two periods.

Bosh led the Raptors with 21 points and 10 rebounds followed closely by Bargnaniís 19 and seven boards. Sonny Weems and Wright were the next highest Raptorsí scorers with 13 points each.

For the Timberwolves Jefferson had a game-high 22 points, while rookie Wayne Ellington matched his season high of 17.

mike.ganter@sunmedia.ca


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