Timberwolves 73, Raptors 56

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MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Latrell Sprewell knows something his new teammates are just starting to figure out—defense wins championships.

Sprewell pressured Vince Carter all game, and the Minnesota Timberwolves held the Toronto Raptors to a franchise-low for points in a 73-56 victory Saturday night.

It was the fewest points scored against Minnesota in team history.

“Defensively, I want to lead by example,” Sprewell said after holding Carter to 15 points. “I’ve been deep in the playoffs before and its only because I played for defensive teams.”

“They (teammates) were in the right places and I was doing my job, so together it made great defense,” Sprewell added.

Kevin Garnett and Michael Olowokandi were following Sprewell’s lead, blocking four shots each. Garnett finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

“Right now the defense is ahead of the offense,” Garnett said. “But, defense is what wins games, so we’re happy.”

Olowokandi had 14 points and Sam Cassell added 13 for Minnesota, which scored a franchise-low 61 points the previous night at New Jersey.

“Offensively, I don’t think we’ve begun to even scratch the surface of our potential,” said Olowokandi, who called Friday’s loss against the Nets humiliating. “The thing we have to establish right away is defense.”

Toronto had opened with a 2-0 record for the first time in franchise history, but Carter shot just 5-for-15 as Sprewell guarded him tightly all night.

“It’s tough, we played three games in four days and were a little fatigued,” said Carter, the only Raptor in double figures. “You could see it in our shooting.”

The Raptors were 19-for-69 (27.5 percent) from the floor and scored a franchise-worst 24 points in the second half.

“It seemed like there was lid on the basket,” said Lamond Murray, who was 2-for-12.

Carter tried to carry Toronto in the third quarter, scoring the team’s first six points to bring it to 45-38. But Minnesota went on a 14-4 run to take a 59-42 lead into the fourth. Seven different Timberwolves scored during the stretch, and the Raptors totaled just 10 points in the quarter.

Toronto got no closer than 15 the rest of the way.

Minnesota got off to a fast start behind Garnett’s eight first-quarter points and strong defensive presence. He blocked three shots in the quarter, while Toronto had two 24-second violations and shot just 4-for-17 to fall behind 20-12.

The Raptors continued to shoot poorly in the second quarter, missing their first six shots. But they stayed close and, when Murray hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, the score was 41-32.

Toronto’s previous low for points was 64 against Charlotte on Nov. 20,2000.


: Flip Saunders expects guard Troy Hudson (sprained right ankle) to be out at least two more weeks. “He’s not any better than we thought he’d be,” Saunders said. … Toronto’s 27.5 percent shooting was the worst field-goal percentage ever for a Wolves’ opponent. … The Wolves entered the game with an 18-1 record at home against teams from Canada, including 7-0 against Toronto. … The Raptors started a stretch in which they play five of seven games on the road, including three games in four nights on the West Coast. … The Raptors scored just 12 first-quarter points after scoring 11 in the first quarter Friday. … Jerome Williams had 16 rebounds for Toronto, which outrebounded theWolves 45-35.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
J. Williams J. Williams
2-8,  7 Pts
16 Rebs, 0 Assists
K. Garnett K. Garnett
9-20,  20 Pts
7 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders