To avoid their longest losing streak in more than 13 years, the Toronto Raptors will have to beat a team they couldn’t stay within 16 points of less than a week ago.
In many ways, they couldn’t ask for a better opponent.
The Raptors look to avoid a 14th consecutive loss Friday night when they host the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have won once on the road since early November and have lost six straight at Air Canada Centre.
Toronto (13-37) nearly snapped its skid at 10 last Friday against visiting Milwaukee before losing in overtime, then had a difficult road trip - in more ways than one.
A 103-87 loss to Minnesota (11-37) on Saturday was followed by a visit to Indiana on Monday, and the Raptors had plenty of time to think about that 104-93 defeat. They were stranded in Indianapolis until early Wednesday due to the blizzard that swept through the Midwest, arrived in Atlanta later that morning in time for a shootaround, then lost 100-87 to the Hawks.
The 13-game slide is Toronto’s longest since Feb. 12-March 7, 2002.
The Raptors haven’t lost 14 in a row since a franchise-worst 17-game skid Nov. 6-Dec. 9, 1997, but a visit from the Timberwolves might be just what they need. Minnesota is 2-22 on the road, and its only win since Nov. 10 was a one-point escape at Cleveland - which has currently lost 22 straight.
Toronto’s loss to the Timberwolves last week snapped a 12-game winning streak in the series, and it’ll be tough for the Raptors to play any worse than they did at the Target Center. Their 33.7 percent shooting (34 of 101) was a season low, and the 67 shots missed represented the most in an NBA game this season.
“We just took him out of his comfort zone,” Minnesota forward Kevin Love(notes) said. “He wanted to post up right on the block but we pushed him out to 15, 18 feet. He tried to back us down from there, but we forced him into a lot of tough turnaround jump shots, a lot of fadeaways.”
Love had 21 points and 12 boards in the win over the Raptors, but the league’s leading rebounder had to fight to record his 34th consecutive double-double Wednesday against Memphis.
Love had four points after three quarters before finishing with 10, adding 10 boards in a 102-84 home loss. To make matters worse, he had a tooth knocked lose from an errant elbow by Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph(notes).
“The ball didn’t seem to find me tonight,” said Love, who will have X-rays on his tooth. “I couldn’t tell you what it was. I never got into a rhythm.
“To say we played poorly was an understatement.”
Both teams could be without a member of their backcourt Friday. Minnesota’s Luke Ridnour(notes) missed Wednesday’s game due to personal reasons, while Toronto’s Jerryd Bayless(notes) left the loss in Atlanta with a sprained right knee.
Leandro Barbosa(notes) (hamstring) and Reggie Evans(notes) (foot) remain out for the Raptors, while Linas Kleiza(notes) could miss up to a year after having microfracture surgery on his right knee Wednesday.