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News » Timberwolves-Raptors Preview 2009-12-07

Timberwolves-Raptors Preview 2009-12-07

Timberwolves-Raptors Preview 2009-12-07Though off to a disappointing start, the Toronto Raptors have been one of the NBA's top 3-point shooting teams, and matchups with the Minnesota Timberwolves seem to bring out the best in their perimeter players.

With a chance to win three straight for the first time this season, the Raptors look to extend a 10-game winning streak versus the Timberwolves and continue their long-range shooting success against them Tuesday night.

Winners of back-to-back games for the third time this season, Toronto (9-13) will try to avoid its first loss to Minnesota (3-17) since a 108-97 home defeat Jan. 21, 2004. The Raptors have averaged 104.2 points and shot 44.0 percent from 3-point range during the streak.

Toronto is fourth in the NBA in 3-point shooting, making 38.7 percent of its attempts. Two of the three teams ahead of the Raptors in that category - Phoenix and Cleveland - have winning percentages above .700.

The Raptors are far from that level of success, but two straight road wins have given them some confidence. They beat Chicago 110-78 on Saturday night after a 109-107 overtime victory against Washington the previous evening snapped a five-game losing streak.

"The last couple of games we saw everybody helping each other, everybody telling everybody if you make a mistake it doesn't matter," guard Jose Calderon said. "Somebody will help you. It's no problem at all."

The Raptors have been particularly sharp defensively, holding their last two opponents under 40 percent shooting. They had surrendered at least 100 points in 12 straight games, losing nine, before shutting down the Bulls.

"We have a chance to be a good defensive team," Toronto forward Chris Bosh said. "It's just all about effort and work."

Bosh had a relatively easy night versus the Bulls, recording 25 points and 12 rebounds in 22 minutes before the Raptors emptied their bench. He had 31 points and 16 rebounds in 40 minutes against the Wizards.

Bosh will face Minnesota's Al Jefferson in perhaps the most compelling matchup of this game. Jefferson missed both contests against the Raptors last season due to a torn right ACL.

Jefferson had surgery on that knee in February, and has had an inconsistent start to the season as he tries to make his way back to 100 percent. He is scoring 15.8 points per game, 7.3 below last season's average.

The 6-foot-10 forward had 15 points and 11 rebounds to help Minnesota beat Utah 108-101 on Saturday night.

Jefferson has gotten some much-needed help in the frontcourt, with Kevin Love playing well in his first two games of the season. Love, who broke his left hand in the preseason, had 18 points and 10 rebounds versus the Jazz after posting 11 points and 11 rebounds in his season debut, a 98-89 loss to New Orleans on Friday night.

"He's worked real hard on his game and then he got hurt," Jefferson said. "Now he's just showing what he can do."

Love, a 6-10 forward, averaged 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds as a rookie and 15.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in two games against the Raptors.

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Author: Fox Sports
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Added: December 7, 2009


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