Timberwolves-Raptors Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 04, 2012
The Minnesota Timberwolves may be in position to gain a rare win over the Toronto Raptors. The Timberwolves have lost 14 of their last 15 in this series and eight straight in Toronto heading into Sunday night's matchup with the 0-2 Raptors. Minnesota (1-0) hasn't won in Toronto since Jan. 21, 2004. But the Timberwolves, who visit Brooklyn on Monday, start their first set of back-to-back games as the rested team after the Raptors fell 107-100 on the road to the Nets on Saturday. "I'm just looking forward to Toronto, one game," Minnesota guard Brandon Roy said. "It's a big game for us and then focus on Brooklyn after that one." The Timberwolves showcased some depth in their frontcourt even without the injured Kevin Love in their opener, a 92-80 victory over Sacramento on Friday. New big men Andrei Kirilenko, Dante Cunningham and Greg Stiemsma all helped Minnesota enjoy a 53-43 cushion on the glass, and the Timberwolves held a 52-42 advantage in points in the paint. "This team is deep. We have a lot of guys that are just raring to go at any minute," said Cunningham, who grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. That frontcourt strength could provide a major advantage against Toronto, which has been outrebounded by slight margins in its first two games and outscored in the paint by a total of 28 points. The offense has revolved mostly around Kyle Lowry, who is averaging 24.5 points and 8.0 assists. The three Raptors comprising their starting frontcourt, meanwhile, have totaled 45 points - 29 from Andrea Bargnani. "Unless it's Andrea, we really don't establish ourself in the post," coach Dwane Casey admitted. Center Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and 10 rebounds in a 90-88 loss to Indiana on Wednesday to join Damon Stoudamire as the only rookies in team history to debut with a double-double. Valanciunas was limited to two points and three boards in 12 minutes Friday. Toronto is off to its worst start since losing its first nine games seven years ago. "We've had two games in which we've been in the same situation, playing really well at times and then we fall behind," guard Jose Calderon said. "But we've fought hard against Indiana and the Brooklyn Nets, which are going to be two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. That gives us a lot of confidence." The Timberwolves are seeking to improve offensively after shooting 36.8 percent in their opener. J.J. Barea led the way with 21 points and five assists off the bench. "I think J.J. made some really good plays on the pick and rolls," coach Rick Adelman said. "He made really good decisions and found guys near the basket." Roy shot 4 of 14 - missing all five 3-point attempts - to finish with 10 points and six assists in 30 minutes in his Minnesota debut and first NBA action in two seasons after chronic pain in both of his knees caused him to initially retire. "It's good to know that I was able to handle it well," Roy said. "My knees felt great, besides some cramps. First game back, I'm excited going forward."
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