Takeaways: Raptors continue to struggle against weaker opponents

Karl-Anthony Towns scored 29 points and grabbed 14 rebounds to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves to the win over the Toronto Raptors.

• Raptors’ recent road woes persist
• Toronto misses injured Patrick Patterson
• Andrew Wiggins goes off on hometown team

The Toronto Raptors suffered another loss after another blown lead Wednesday night as they were up by 13 and led by 10 at halftime only to fall to a struggling Minnesota Timberwolves team.

This is just Toronto’s third loss in their last 25 meetings against Minnesota. And it was a bad one for the Raptors, who controlled the majority of the game. But given the way they’ve played of late, it shouldn’t have been all that surprising.

In a funk

Toronto needs more than DeMar DeRozan’s return to erase what has been an extended run of poor play. Toronto is just 4-9 since Jan. 18, are just 3-10 on the road since Dec. 28 and have lost six of their last seven.

Patrick Patterson‘s return can’t come soon enough. Pascal Siakam started in his place at the four Wednesday and struggled once again, playing 20 minutes and registering a minus-9.

The Raptors don’t play again until a Sunday 6:00 p.m. ET matchup at home versus Detroit. With two practices scheduled in between games, the layoff gives the team a chance to catch their breath and hopefully get Patterson back to full health after being bothered by a knee injury for the better part of a month.

Unlucky 13

Last 13 games on the road
Record: 3-10
Points per game: 101.5
Points against per game: 107.1
Opponent’s three-point FG percentage: 41.5
Turnovers per game: 11.6

Where is the D?

Once again defence was the issue for Toronto. After playing relatively well on the defensive end in the first half against the T-Wolves, things fell apart in the third quarter. Minnesota finished with 112 points on 49 per cent field goal shooting.

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Snake eyes against lottery teams

Toronto is bad against bad teams. If they end up trailing Boston, Washington, and/or Cleveland in the standings at the end of the season, their level of play against lottery teams will be why.

The Raptors have lost to Minnesota, Orlando (twice), Phoenix (twice), Philadelphia and Sacramento (twice). We aren’t even at the all-star break yet. Wednesday night was the latest in a long trend of poor performances against the weaker organizations.

DeMarre Carroll is back

On the plus side, Carroll had a solid night. The 30-year-old finished with 19 points shooting 7-of-9 from the field and 5-of-5 from three with a team-high nine rebounds. Carroll made great off-the-ball cuts, provided great spacing and had good lift on his jump shot.

Against Minnesota Carroll looked like the man Dwane Casey envisioned having at his disposal when he signed in Toronto as a free agent.

Where is JV?

Jonas Valanciunas didn’t miss a shot and was playing well through three quarters bat sat virtually the entire fourth quarter, only entering with 33 seconds left in the game. Valanciunas scored 16 points shooting 7-of-7 from the field. This game ends J.V.’s three-game streak of 13 or more shots in a game, the longest such stretch of his NBA career.

Wiggins doing work

Andrew Wiggins had a game-high 31 points on an efficient 11-of-19 shooting, chipping in five rebounds and six assists. At one point Wiggins put Valanciunas in his poster, dunking with the big Lithuanian in the vicinity and hanging with two hands on the rim, legs wrapped around him for good measure. Later Wiggins hit a clutch jumper over Norman Powell with 47.6 seconds left in the game to give Minnesota the lead.

His best play of the night was not forcing a shot but forcing Valanciunas to rotate and help when he drove to the rim. When Cory Joseph left Tyus Jones to help the helper, Wiggins hit Jones for a spot-up three to put Minnesota up for good with just 19.5 seconds left. The composure and recognition with the game on the line shows Wiggins is maturing into much more than a volume scorer.

Wiggins’ progression is something Canadian basketball fans should be excited about even if on this night it came at the expense of the Raptors. In a game with two all-stars and another who just missed out in Karl Anthony-Towns, Wiggins was the best player on the floor.

Oakley Arrested

Former Toronto Raptor Charles Oakley was arrested and reportedly charged with three counts of assault and one count of criminal trespassing for an ugly incident at Madison Square Garden. Oakley was reportedly sitting behind New York Knicks owner James Dolan in seats that he bought when Dolan had him removed from the arena.

This just the latest in what has been a drama-filled year for the Raptors’ Atlantic division rivals.

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