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DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry lift Toronto Raptors over Minnesota Timberwolves

By Larry Millson, The Sports Xchange
DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry lift Toronto Raptors over Minnesota Timberwolves
Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry. UPI/John Angelillo | License Photo

TORONTO -- The Minnesota Timberwolves continued to struggle in the fourth quarter and, as a result, the Toronto Raptors continued to win at home.

The Timberwolves took a one-point lead into the fourth quarter on Thursday night only to be outscored 36-21 in the final stanza with Toronto guards DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry combining for 19 points.

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DeRozan, who had nine points in the final quarter, finished with 27 points as the Raptors completed a 5-1 homestand with a 124-110 victory.

"We just picked it up," DeRozan said. "We kicked in our experience of understanding how to win games. We can't underestimate a team like that that plays extremely hard. They jumped out on us and we had to fight back the whole game until the fourth quarter."

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"We finally woke up and played in the fourth quarter but we can't live like that and expect to do anything special," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said.

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The Raptors' only loss on the homestand was to the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Lowry had 25 points, 10 in the fourth quarter, and 11 assists for the Raptors and completed a four-point play on a 3-point shot and a free throw with 7:17 to play in the game that gave Toronto a six-point lead.

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"It affected momentum but not to the point where it affected us because we were still within striking distance with four minutes to go," said Zach LaVine, who scored 29 points for Minnesota.

Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Andrew Wiggins added 25 points and Karl-Anthony Towns recorded 17 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota (6-16).

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"There is no reason why (we) can win three of the first quarters and then lose it in the fourth," LaVine said. "So it's frustrating."

The second-half woes have become a pattern for the Timberwolves, who have lost six of their past seven games.

"I thought our fouling hurt us," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I thought the first three quarters offensively we were very good, connected, made the right reads, right plays, ball movement and screening, cutting, a lot of good things happened. Then, in the fourth, we got away from that. Of course, to me, the defense, we have to correct it. We have to get it better. It's costing us right now."

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The Timberwolves took a one-point into the fourth quarter but consecutive 3-pointers by Lowry and Patrick Patterson had the Raptors ahead by 12 points with just less than five minutes to play.

LaVine hit a 3-point shot with 3:06 to play to cut Toronto's lead to seven points before the Raptors drew away.

Cory Joseph contributed 12 points off the bench for the Raptors (15-7) and DeMarre Carroll scored 10. Gorgui Dieng chipped in with 10 points for Minnesota.

The Timberwolves led 32-22 after the first quarter.

Minnesota's lead reached 12 points early in the second quarter before the Raptors took a 54-53 lead on consecutive 3-pointers by Carroll. The first half ended 59-59.

"We can be a good team but we can't be special if we allow things to happen that happened in the first half," Casey said.

The Raptors scored the first six points of the second half on the way to building a nine-point lead.

Ricky Rubio's second 3-pointer of the second half moved Minnesota to within two points of the lead and a 3-point shot by Towns put Minnesota ahead 83-82. Minnesota led 89-88 after three quarters.

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"If we can do it in the beginning we can do it at the end," Rubio said.

Toronto led by one point after a driving layup by Lowry with 8:31 left.

After his four-point play, Lowry hit a 3-pointer with 5:31 remaining to get the lead to nine. Patterson's 3-pointer increased the lead to 12 points with 4:47 to play.

"They really outplayed energy-wise for the first three quarter," Joseph said. "The last quarter we stepped it up, rotations were faster and we were just playing with a little more grit."

NOTES: Toronto G DeMar DeRozan surpassed 10,000 career points Monday night in the loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers and needs 250 more points to equal F Chris Bosh as the franchise's leading scorer (10,275). DeRozan passed Morris Peterson for the most appearances in franchise history by playing his 543rd game on Thursday. ... Timberwolves F Andrew Wiggins is from the Toronto area and received the usual media attention before the game Thursday. ... Minnesota G Brandon Rush returned Tuesday after missing three games with a sprained right big toe. He dressed for the loss to the San Antonio Spurs but did not play and did not play Thursday. ... The Raptors' next game will be Friday, when they visit the Boston Celtics. ... The Timberwolves return home to the Target Center Friday for a game against the Detroit Pistons.

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