Raptors fend off Wolves to keep Adelman stuck on 999 career wins
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Rudy Gay had 26 points and five rebounds to lead the Toronto Raptors to a rare road victory in the West 95-93 over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday night.
DeMar DeRozan had 25 points and Kyle Lowry added 11 points and seven assists for the Raptors, who beat the Timberwolves for the 16th time in 17 games and prevented Minnesota coach Rick Adelman from recording his 1,000th win.
Nikola Pekovic had 24 points and eight rebounds and Andrei Kirilenko added 20 points and six rebounds for the Timberwolves, who led by as many as 11 in the second half. But they missed 10 free throws, including one from Ricky Rubio with 1.7 seconds to go that would have tied the game.
Rubio, who finished with 13 points and 12 assists, held his head in his hands after missing the last free throw, clearly disappointed he couldn’t help his coach reach a milestone.
Jonas Valanciunas had 12 points and four rebounds and Terrence Ross threw down a soaring, 360-windmill jam that would have won him the dunk contest to help the Raptors win for just the third time in 38 games in which they trailed entering the fourth quarter.
They are 3-12 on the road against the West.
The Raptors size at shooting guard with DeRozan, Ross and Landry Fields was too much for the 6-foot-2 Luke Ridnour and the rookie Valanciunas more than held his own against one of the best offensive rebounders in the league in Pekovic.
Looking like the scoring machine they thought they were getting in the trade from Memphis, Gay made a tough baseline drive and DeRozan converted a three-point play for a 92-90 lead with two minutes to go. Gay then made a turnaround jumper on the baseline and Valanciunas stuffed Pekovic on the other end to help seal an inspired victory.
Adelman won’t have to wait long for another shot at becoming the eighth coach in league history to win 1,000 games. The Timberwolves host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night.
The Wolves looked to be taking control with a 13-0 run in the middle of the third quarter. Kirilenko’s 3-pointer gave them a 61-50 lead, and the Raptors appeared to be content to let another road game go by the wayside.
But Kyle Lowry started to show more determination, and his teammates followed. DeRozan got back to sinking jumpers against Ridnour, Valanciunas attacked the glass and Toronto responded with a 17-5 run. Gay opened the fourth quarter with two straight jumpers for a 75-73 lead.
It was an encouraging sign for Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who previously coached the Timberwolves and has watched his Raptors slog to the finish of another disappointing season.
Gay’s turnaround jumper gave the Raptors a 94-91 lead with 1:35 to go, and they had the ball and a two-point lead with under 30 seconds to play and they got a rare bit of luck when Rubio’s final free throw rimmed out.
Notes: Valanciunas was the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month for March. He averaged 11.4 points and 7.3 rebounds in the month. ... Love’s doctors talked with Wolves medical personnel on Friday, but the Olympian still was not cleared for contact work. He will be evaluated early next week. ... Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Murray attended the game.