If you tuned in to watch the 10-36 Timberwolves host the 13-34 Raptors, you got what you expected, or at least what you should have expected from two of the worst and coldest teams in the NBA. In fact, you probably got more than you expected, in a sick, twisted way.
Matt and Jack had to spend the entire first quarter talking about the contingent of Canadian/Raptors fans in attendance in Minnesota (which was nice to see and equally impressive) because there was no basketball game in front of them to talk about. Seriously, the first quarter was highlighted by the Raptors shooting 35 per cent, the T-Wolves shooting 29 per cent, and a dream one-on-one matchup between Alexis Ajinca and Darko Milicic.
From a Raptors perspective of disgrace, things were just warming up. On my count, the Raps shot 5-of-23 in the second quarter, refused to take a step in the paint on offence or move a muscle on defence, let the T-Wolves go on a 13-0 run and as you can tell, played with no sense of urgency, or pride for that matter, whatsoever.
Even worse, the team seemed to feel no shame for their atrocious first half display. In fact, Jay Triano’s halftime interview was totally calm, as he talked about how his team was doing fine defensively and just not making shots on offence.
Jay clearly wasn’t aware that those watching his interview had also actually seen the first half.
Toronto responded with their worst quarter of the night, and headed to the fourth down 21, shooting a feeble 27.6 per cent after three quarters.
Trying to bask in the glory of just their 11th win of the season, the Timberwolves enjoyed every minute of the fourth quarter. They hit some threes at the beginning of the quarter, laughed as the Raptors clanked jumpers and then got to watch Martell Webster take the ball from the three-point line, drive straight down the middle of what passes as Toronto’s defence, and throw down this jam. That made it 91-65 Minnesota, and it became painfully clear for Raptors fans that they were watching one of the worst performances in franchise history.
The Raps went on a bit of a run in the dying minutes to make the final score look somewhat respectable, but that’s typical of an NBA blowout. This game was ugly from the get-go, and only one team chose to jump up and fight for a rare victory.
The Raptors had no effort out of the gates, and no fight when they needed it. No matter how you slice it, they just didn’t want the victory. If you’re going to come with the “all pro athletes want to win” argument, then I suggest you review the game film from Saturday night.
The only player in black who demonstrated an ounce of competitive spirit was Ed Davis, but it’s hard for a 21-year-old rookie to carry a team. The other guy you can usually count on for an honest effort, Julian Wright, didn’t see the floor until there were seven minutes remaining in the game, because Jay Triano thought Sonny Weems had earned his way back into the starting lineup, gave him 28 minutes and went to Trey Johnson when Sonny needed a break. As if Jay hadn’t given Raptors fans enough reason to call for his head.
Then there’s this gem. After the game, Triano praised his team’s defence, even though anyone who saw the game knows the defensive effort was laughable and the Wolves simply missed a lot of makeable shots. But Jay wasn’t done. I kid you not, Jay said he thought his team “battled.” How does management allow Triano to insult fans’ intelligence like that, time after time?
You may have noticed that DeMar DeRozan has hit a bit of a rut after his stellar month. It’s no coincidence that this coincides with Sonny Weems’ return to the lineup. Both players have similar skill-sets, and it’s become clear that DeRozan thrives without Weems running alongside him. For the sake of DeMar’s development, hopefully there’s a team out there willing to give Sonny a chance to end the season with them.
Raptors Player of the Game: Ed Davis -25 Min, 15 Pts, 7-10 FG, 1-4 FT, 11 Reb
Timberwolves Player of the Game: Kevin Love -24 Min, 21 Pts, 6-10 FG, 2-4 3Pt, 7-8 FT, 12 Reb, 1 Ast, 1 Stl, 1 Blk
Goat of the Game: Andrea Bargnani – 32 Min, 15 Pts, 5-24 FG, 0-5 3Pt, 5-6 FT, 3 Reb, 3 Ast, 2 Stl, 3 Blk