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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Raptors capture 125-102 victory over Timberwolves

TORONTO – Pascal Siakam had 12 points, 13 assists and 10 points for his second career triple-double and the Toronto Raptors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-102 on Wednesday for their fourth consecutive victory.

Gary Trent Jr. had 29 points, while OG Anunoby poured in 22 in just his fourth game back after missing 15 with a fractured finger, including 13 straight points as part of the Raptors’ key 30-13 run in the second quarter.

Scottie Barnes added 17 points for the Raptors (44-32), while Precious Achiuwa chipped in 13, Fred VanVleet scored 12, and Thaddeus Young finished with 10.

Anthony Edwards led the Timberwolves (43-34) with 24 points.

With six games left in the regular-season, the Raptors continue to inch their way into a post-season spot. Wednesday’s win pulled them even with Chicago for fifth, although the Bulls have the tiebreaker. Toronto is looking to finish top-six and head straight into the playoffs rather than have to go the play-in route.

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Toronto got off to a sluggish start Wednesday, trailing by 17 points in the second quarter. But the Raptors took a two-point lead into the halftime break and never looked back.

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Toronto led 109-88 to start the fourth and when Raptors newcomer Young scored on a running dunk with 6:11 to play, it put the home team ahead by 27 points and brought the players on the bench to their feet in celebration.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse subbed off his starters with 4:14 to play to rousing applause from the capacity crowd of 19.800 at Scotiabank Arena.

The Raptors shot 50 per cent on the night, and went 18-for-36 from three-point range.

The T’Wolves smothered the Raptors 30-16 in the first half, at one point holding a 24-8 advantage

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Despite 11 first-quarter points from Trent Jr., the Raptors trailed 30-20 heading into the second.

D’Angelo Russell’s three-point capped a 10-3 run that saw the T’Wolves go up by 17 points less than three minutes into the second. But the Raptors finally found their groove, and Anunoby scored 13 straight points in two-and-a-half minutes — three consecutive three-pointers sandwiched between a pair of dunks — to tie the game 53-53 with 3:17 left in the half.

VanVleet connected on a three-pointer with 0.2 on the clock and the Raptors took a 62-60 lead into the locker-room at halftime.

The game marked the first trip to Scotiabank Arena for Chris Finch. The T’Wolves head coach was an assistant with the Raptors last season, but because they were based in Tampa, Fla., due to COVID-19 restrictions, he was never in Toronto.

“He got sunshine (in Florida) his whole tenure, so that’s a first,” said Nurse. “We think it’s a great city and he’s a pretty a well-travelled or worldly guy. I think he would have enjoyed it here.”

Nurse and Finch are longtime friends, having coached in the British league together. They also coached Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics.

The Raptors play in Orlando on Friday in one of just two remaining road games. They wrap up the regular season in New York on April 10.

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On Sunday, Kyle Lowry makes his long-awaited return to Toronto with Miami. The Heat played in Toronto on Feb. 1 — a 110-106 Raptors victory — but Lowry was on an extended leave for personal reasons and didn’t make the trip. No fans were able to be in attendance at that game anyway, due to crowd restrictions the result of COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2022.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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