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Raptors claw their way past T-Wolves

Jan 10, 2012 - 3:12 AM Toronto, ON (Sports Network) - Andrea Bargnani had 31 points and Amir Johnson scored 19 with 11 rebounds, leading the Toronto Raptors to a 97-87 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Monday.

The Raptors closed the game on a 20-7 run to beat Minnesota for the eighth straight time at home. They improved to 14-1 against the Timberwolves since the 2004-05 season.

Jose Calderon added 14 points in the victory and Leandro Barbosa scored 13 off the bench.

Kevin Love recorded his ninth straight double-double to start the season, scoring 13 points with 14 rebounds, but the Timberwolves shot just 33.8 percent overall and 29.2 percent from three-point range. J.J. Barea scored a team-high 16 points off the bench and rookie Ricky Rubio had 10.

The Raptors, who snapped a two-game slide, will play back-to-back-to-back games for the only time this season. They are headed on the road to play Washington on Tuesday before coming home to face Sacramento on Wednesday.

"It's not just about playing against the other team, it's about playing against ourselves," Johnson said of the stretch, a common occurrence for teams in the lockout-shortened season. "We've got to stay healthy and keep our bodies fresh to get through it."

Calderon's technical free throw and Bargnani's reverse layup pulled the Raptors out of a three-point hole and tied the game at 80-80 with 6 1/2 minutes left, beginning their game-ending run.

More than three minutes passed before another point was scored on Johnson's putback dunk, which gave Toronto the lead for good with 3:14 left.

Johnson blocked Anthony Tolliver at the other end and Calderon buried a jumper from the right side. Bargnani then hit a shot from the other side to make it 86-80 with less than two minutes remaining, and the lead climbed to nine points inside a minute on DeMar DeRozan's free throws.

The Timberwolves missed 10 straight shots during a more than six-minute stretch while the Raptors were making their run.

"We were way too inconsistent through the game and it cost us," said Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman.

Earlier, Bargnani scored 14 points in the first half and the Raptors closed it on a 16-2 run to overcome an eight-point deficit and take a 55-49 lead at the break. They had a 27-25 advantage after the first quarter.

The Timberwolves were just 4-for-14 in the second quarter, but made 14 of their 20 free throws. They shot under 30 percent in the third quarter and still managed to cut their deficit to four points, 73-69, entering the fourth.

Game Notes

Raptors center Aaron Gray had a corrective heart procedure Monday intended to put an end to recent episodes of an elevated heart rate. He is expected to return to action in two weeks, the team said.