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Balanced attack helps Raptors cruise past Timberwolves

Feb 11, 2008 - 3:04 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- A balanced attack helped continue the Toronto Raptors recent success against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Andrea Bargnani scored 16 points and Jose Calderon had 15 and 10 assists as the Raptors won for the seventh straight time over Minnesota, 105-82, on Sunday.

Bosh chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds in a shortened night for the Raptors, who bounced back from a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday and have still not dropped back-to-back games since January 4 and 6.

After leading by four points at the break, the Raptors took control early in the second half with a 17-6 run - keyed by six points from Chris Bosh - that gave them a 75-57 advantage with 3:38 left in the third quarter.

"(At halftime) we just talked about what we needed to do," Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said. "I don't like talking about what they are doing. We just talked about how we needed to become a better basketball team."

Toronto took a 16-point lead into the fourth and remained comfortably in front for the rest of the contest, leading by at least 15 for the entire frame. The Raptors outscored Minnesota, 54-35, for the second half.

"This effort wasn't what this team has been about," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. "This was the most selfish effort in a while. We had no concentration on the defensive end."

In his third game back since suffering a neck stinger on December 12, T.J. Ford had seven points and 13 assists in 22 minutes for Toronto, which had 10 players score at least seven points in the game.

"One thing you don't lose, is you don't lose how to play the basketball game," Ford said. "What I'm known for - finding my teammates and creating and getting people open - I don't think you lose that. I'm just going out and trying to bring some energy to the team.

The Timberwolves had a 23-20 lead late in the first quarter, before Toronto went on a 19-4 run to take a 39-27 bulge with 8:13 left in the second.

Minnesota closed to within one late in the first half but Calderon made a 3-pointer right before the halftime buzzer to give the Raptors a 51-47 lead at intermission.

Calderon had 11 points and nine assists in the first half, and finished the game with double digit assists for the fifth time in his last six contests.

As a team, Toronto had 31 assists on 41 made field goals.

"We just tried to get everyone going," Calderon said. "We just tried to find our wide-open guys ... it's the whole team ... that's how we (win) this tonight."

Al Jefferson had 18 points and nine rebounds to pace the Timberwolves, who ended a five-game homestand at 2-3. Minnesota had won the first two games before losing the last three at home, which included a wrenching 88-86 setback to the Kevin Garnett-less Boston Celtics on Friday.

"I didn't see this coming," Wittman said. "I thought we would respond from a tough loss like the other night. We didn't have the concentration needed right from the start."