Bargnani puts on show for Raptors
Andrea Bargnani was all over the court for the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night, pouring in 26 points in a 118-108 home victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Chris Bosh also scored 26 points, but Bargnani provided the most flair, effortlessly weaving through lanes to score several easy baskets.
Bargnani benefited from the largesse of Jose Calderon, who finished with 13 assists to go along with 15 points.
Anthony Parker also delivered for the Raptors, notching 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
"Anytime you run like that, different guys are going to get the basketball. You don't have to run plays for specific guys. We're sharing the ball a lot better," said Raptors coach Jay Triano.
"It's our number of possession, because we run, and we're being unselfish. The players are starting to get it a little bit, we're starting to move the basketball."
The Raptors beat the Timberwolves on Feb. 10 and, as in that game, on Tuesday they used a big second half to secure victory.
Randy Foye had 25 points to lead Minnesota (18-39). Ryan Gomes had 23 points, while Mike Miller led all players with 12 rebounds.
The Timberwolves have lost eight of their last nine games.
Minnesota jumped out to an 18-11 lead, with Kevin Love accounting for half of Minnesota's points at that point.
Calderon and Parker combined for an alley-oop bucket to get an early rise out of the Air Canada Centre crowd.
Leading 28-18, the Wolves forced a turnover and Sebastian Telfair threw up a no-look basket while being fouled, later completing the three-point play.
Bosh showed some fire early, jostling with Brian Cardinal late in the quarter, with both drawing technical fouls. On the next sequence, Bosh checked Cardinal to the floor to incur a personal foul.
Bosh then threw his weight around cleanly, blocking a shot to set up Jason Kapono's jumper at the end of the quarter to make it 37-25 for the Timberwolves.
"We had to realize nice guys sit home and watch the playoffs," said Bosh. "If we play with intensity, you're more likely to win and you're more likely to play better basketball.
"Be intense, just get the job done, no excuses. If you're tired, suck it up and keep playing basketball until we win."
Joey Graham tried to inject some life into the Raptors early in the second, stuffing the ball for a 41-29 score.
Toronto began climbing back into the game and Minnesota was forced to call a time out after Bargnani took a Calderon pass and pulled the Raptors to 49-45 with a reverse layup.
Kapono again prospered late in the second quarter, nailing a three-pointer and cutting Minnesota's lead to 56-52 at halftime.
The Raptors scored 69 points in the second half in the Feb. 10 game against the Timberwolves, and it appeared early in the third that they were looking for an encore.
Parker picked off a Telfair pass and drove to the basket, making the net and converting a foul for a three-point play and a 73-70 Toronto lead.
Minnesota turned the ball over on the very next sequence, with Calderon intercepting. Bargnani finished the play with a two-handed dunk.
The Timberwolves didn't fold, though. Foye hit a three and Miller and Gomes hit baskets to put Minnesota back on top.
Minnesota is without centre Al Jefferson, who is sidelined with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which is part of the reason Bargnani was able to work inside with impunity, and he dunked over Cardinal late in the quarter.
Toronto shot 71 per cent in the quarter, leading 84-80 with one quarter to go.
Bosh hit a shot for Toronto's largest lead, 95-88, but Minnesota again wouldn't quit.
Gomes reduced the Raptors' lead to just a bucket with more than five minutes left.
Despite consecutive Calderon turnovers, the Wolves went cold, highlighted by Miller missing a wide-open three attempt.
Parker then contributed a key rejection of a Minnesota shot to set up Bargnani's put-in for a 109-103 lead.
Hoye hit a three for the visitors, but recently-acquired Shawn Marion quickly responded. Toronto extended the lead to 10 points when Parker put in a three with two minutes left, and Minnesota never threatened again.
"When you're involved and you're touching the ball and you're making plays, it just gives you confidence, it gives you aggressiveness on both ends of the floor, and the next thing you know you're talking, you're clapping, you're trying to get the crowd involved," Parker said. "I think it was night and day from the first quarter on."
Marion finished with 10 points and eight rebounds.
Toronto begins a three-game road swing on Friday against the Phoenix Suns.
With files from the Canadian Press