Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives to the net against the Minnesota Timberwolves during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) drives to the net against the Minnesota Timberwolves during first half NBA basketball action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov

DeRozan, Lowry overcome cold start to lead Raptors past Timberwolves

Toronto picks up 109-104 NBA win

TORONTO — DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry overcame early shooting problems to lead the Toronto Raptors past the Minnesota Timberwolves 109-104 on Tuesday.

DeRozan finished with 23 points and eight assists and Lowry scored 15 with nine assists as Toronto (34-15) rallied to a win. Centre Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds.

Jimmy Butler led Minnesota (32-22) with 25 points, five rebounds and six assists. Canadian Andrew Wiggins scored 15 with eight rebounds as the Timberwolves lost their 14th straight game at Air Canada Centre.

Raptors guard Fred VanVleet played a day after the birth of his child. He finished the game with 10 points in 21 minutes of work. CJ Miles, Toronto’s best player off the bench, missed the game with soreness in his right knee.

Trailing 80-78 after three quarters, the Raptors bench took over.

Norman Powell picked Wiggin s’s pocket and had a breakaway jam to open the quarter and tie the game 80-80. After back-to-back field goals, Pascal Siakam’s free throw gave the Raptors an 83-82 lead, their first since the opening quarter.

A pair of free throws from Delon Wright and a putback dunk by Poeltl made it 87-84, then a three-pointer by Powell added to Toronto’s lead and forced another timeout with 8:24 left to play. Poeltl tipped in another basket when play resumed.

A free throw by Tyus Jones made it 92-85 as Raptors head coach Dwane Casey started to put out his starters again.

Taj Gibson made a short jumpshot to make it 92-87, and on the next Minnesota possession, Lowry was charged with a three-point foul on Butler.

Fans chanted “Ref you suck!” and boos rained down on the court.

Butler made two of his three free throws as the crowd continued to jeer.

Valanciunas made a turnaround jumpshot and Toronto stopped Minnesota at the other end to keep building its lead. As the Raptors pushed their advantage the game became more physical, with DeRozan getting fouled for two free throws. Karl-Anthony Towns dunked but VanVleet made a circus layup and drew a foul to get an extra point and a 99-91 lead with 4:05 left in the game.

Minnesota’s Jeff Teague drilled a three-pointer on the next play, with Serge Ibaka replying with a hook shot. DeRozan again went to the line, making two free throws to chants of “M-V-P!”. Gibson made a jump shot and the Raptors couldn’t score on the ensuing possession, with Towns dunking to cut the Raptors’ lead to five.

Towns made an impressive no-look pass to a wide-open Wiggins, who sank a three-pointer to make it 103-101 with 1:01 left to play. VanVleet drove to the net but passed out to DeRozan who sank a nine-foot jumpshot. Wiggins missed his 26-foot shot and Ibaka grabbed the rebound, with Butler fouling DeRozan.

The Raptors all-star made both of his free throws and Valanciunas grabbed the defensive rebound on Minnesota’s next possession, sinking both of his free throws. Butler made a three-pointer in the final play of the game but it was too late.

The Raptors were ice cold in the first quarter, shooting only 34.8 per cent from field-goal range, including 2 for 10 from beyond the arc. Even their free throw shooting was off, with Ibaka making only one of his two attempts, the only shots Toronto would have in the quarter.

Gibson and Butler led all scorers with six points apiece as Minnesota led 27-19 after 12 minutes of play.

Lowry’s three-point shot from 26 feet out in the dying seconds of the second quarter brought the crowd to its feet. It helped the Raptors cut into the Timberwolves’ lead to make it 57-51 at halftime.

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John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press

NBA