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Join Date: Dec 2007
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Daily Raptor Dish - 05.02.11
Streak is over! Raps beat T-Wolves
Raptors break 13-game losing streak
“It was getting heavy on our souls.”
That is how Jose Calderon summed up the past 25 days. So it was a mix of relief, joy, and even a little we-were-owed-this-one as the Raptors finally ended a 13-game losing skid.
It didn’t matter that the opposition was the defensively porous Minnesota Timberwolves.
When the final horn sounded the scoreboard had the Raptors 111, Timberwolves 100 and so ended the second-worst stretch of Raptors basketball in team history.
Or was it?
Calderon, whose career high and franchise-high tying 19 assists played a huge role in ending the streak, didn’t think so.
“We’ve been fighting for lot of those games but we never got the win,” Calderon said. “I think we deserved more than one in those 13 games.”
But in too many of those 13 games, when the opportunity presented itself either the Raptors failed to take advantage or gave it away.
“We just couldn’t finish the games,” Calderon said. “We were short in our rotations because of injuries. We would make a mistake and the next play Joe Johnson would hit a three or something like that. It kept happening. I think we were working hard, practising hard. We just needed a win. Maybe now everything will be easier.”
Calderon’s 19 assists may have led the way — he joked afterwards he really had no choice but to pass the ball as much as he did because he couldn’t find the mark with his shot — but he had plenty of company in guys who made an impact in this one.
Raptors Blog by Doug Smith
With just under five minutes left, Jose Calderon stood at midcourt at the Air Canada Centre waving his arms, exhorting the fans — and his teammates to finish a game strongly.
With just over two minutes left, after feeding Amir Johnson for a dunk that sealed the game, Calderon rushed back to the huddle for a timeout screaming in delight.
It was the kind of emotion the Raptors hadn't shown in almost a month, the kind of emotion that comes from a victory, the kind of relief that punctuates the snapping of a mentally draining losing streak.
With Calderon tying a career and franchise record for assists, and with Johnson playing a game that coach Jay Triano lauded as “almost perfect,” the Raptors beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 111-100, breaking off a 13-game losing streak.
Now, it's not like they beat the Spurs or Celtics — Minnesota is now 11-39 and 2-23 on the road — but a win is a win is a win and the Raptors are just glad to have one.
“It feels good,” admitted coach Jay Triano. “Again, our focus has been not on what's happened in the past, it's been on the game at hand.
“I read all the stuff that different people say and talk about our guys being down a lot, I'd rather have them be down when you're losing rather than be joking around.
“These guys care and they work hard every day in practice and like I've been saying all along, I want to get a win to reward them for all the work that they've done and hopefully they feel good about tonight.”
They should because as iffy as the competition was, the Raptors played a solid game at both ends and were full measure for the win.
Raptors end 13-game losing streak
I’m not sure I’d go as far as Jay and call Amir Johnson’s game “almost perfect” as you can read in the game story here but, man, was Johnson ever good.
And there was one key play that stood out for me.
Just over three minutes left, Raps up four and Sonny’s got the ball on the baseline. Everyone in the gym – and everyone in the world, I imagine – figure Weems is going to take a jumper but Amir makes a great dive down the lane and Sonny has no alternative to pass the ball.
Johnson makes the catch, finishes at the rim, gets fouled and completes a good, old-fashioned three-point play.
Now, we all know Amir is great at rolling hard to the rim after he sets a high screen but he doesn’t always have the same knack when he’s not actively involved in the play and that’s what made that move even better.
'Hungry' Raptors finally bring end to slump
The Raptors (14-37) came into the contest on a mind-bending 13-game losing skid – tied for the second-longest in franchise history – that ruined their season even before the all-star break.
Somewhere, Chris Bosh must be smiling.
That’s all in the past, at least for now, as the Raptors received a solid bounce-back game from centre Andrea Bargnani in defeating a terrible Minnesota team that has only won twice on the road all season.
Bargnani, who had a horrible game in Toronto’s last outing Wednesday in Atlanta, led the Raptors with 30 points on 10 of 26 shooting.
Toronto gave Minnesota plenty of opportunity to escape with a win, as a game-high 10-point lead with more than 10 minutes left in the game crumbled to just two points with about six left.
But a big Bargnani three-point shot ignited the Raptors down the stretch and the victory was sealed when Amir Johnson rammed home a jam with almost two minutes left to play to provide Toronto with a 107-99 bulge.
After the game concluded, the crowd actually gave the winners a standing ovation.
Raptors get right at Wolves' expense
The Cleveland Cavaliers are keeping the Toronto Raptors in relative anonymity. They are also serving to scare Amir Johnson straight.
Heading into their game last night in Memphis, the Cavaliers had lost 22 games in a row, one game short of an NBA record. It has overshadowed the Raptors' own losing streak, which was 13 games before their game on Friday night against the Minnesota Timberwolves. And Cleveland, not Toronto, is getting major play south of the border, too.
"When we were stuck in Indiana, we went out to eat and we saw they did something on ESPN where they did like a top-10 list of their losses and we were looking at each other like, 'Yo, we can't be on that top 10 for losing streaks,' " Johnson said on Thursday. "So we're definitely hungry for a win. It's just coming to a point where we're like, 'Man, we're going to go all out and get a win.' "
Johnson need not worry anymore. The Cavaliers can have the drama -- and the potential record-breaking -- to themselves. The Raptors put their streak out of its misery, beating the similarly terrible Timberwolves 111-100 at the Air Canada Centre.
Of course, if it was not going to end on Friday, it did not deserve to end. Minnesota has won just twice on the road this year. To make the task easier, the Timberwolves lost Michael Beasley, their second best player, to a sprained left ankle in the second quarter.
The Wolves played on without those two starters and couldn't stop a Raptors team that hadn't won since beating Sacramento at home on Jan. 9. Four of Toronto's five starters scored 16 or more points, led by center Andrea Bargnani's three threes and 30 points. The other starter, point guard Jose Calderon, had 19 assists.
"Our defense was abysmal the entire ballgame," Wolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "We didn't shut anybody down in their starting unit. They all played well. Their offense completely dismantled what we wanted to do defensively. We just couldn't get stops."