As it turned out, the Toronto Raptors got the last laugh against the Love and the Timberwolves on Friday.
“It feels great,” DeRozan said. “I’m glad we got the monkey off our back.”
Amir Johnson(notes) had 19 points and 12 rebounds, Sonny Weems(notes) scored 16 and Jose Calderon(notes) tied his career high with 19 assists as the Raptors won for the first time since a home victory over Sacramento on Jan. 2.
“It does seem like it’s been a while,” Johnson said. “It’s a huge relief.”
Johnson had six assists, three steals and two blocks and made eight of 10 field-goal attempts.
“Amir was unbelievable,” Raptors coach Jay Triano said. “His line is almost perfect basketball for a power forward.”
Trey Johnson(notes) scored 10 points for Toronto, which has won seven straight home games against Minnesota and nine of the past 10. The Timberwolves, 2-23 away from home this season, lost their sixth straight on the road.
“Our defense was abysmal the entire ball game,” Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said. “We didn’t shut down anybody in their starting lineup,” Rambis said. “In all areas, their offense just completely dismantled what we wanted to do defensively.”
Toronto had not dropped more than 13 in a row since a franchise-worst 17-game skid between Nov. 6 and Dec. 9, 1997. The Raptors have had two other 13-game losing streaks, one in 1998 and another in 2002.
“It feels good,” Triano said. “Our focus has been not on what happened in the past, it’s been on the game at hand.”
Love, who had 20 points and 15 rebounds for his 35th straight double-double, was “shocked” when Rambis delivered the news about his All-Star nod in front of the entire team about 30 minutes before the game.
“I was looking at him like ‘What are you talking about?”’ Love said. “I looked around like ‘Is Ashton Kutcher about to pop up in here?”’
Love played in the All-Star rookie-sophomore game in 2010, finishing with 12 points and six rebounds.
“I remember sitting on a plane last year with (team president David Kahn),” Love said. “He said ‘Maybe one day you’ll be in the game on Sunday. I was thinking to myself ‘Wouldn’t it be nice if it was back home in LA’ and here I am.”
“I’m truly humbled,” Love said. “I wish things were going better for the team, but I’m looking forward to representing the Timberwolves on All-Star weekend.”
“We’ve all got to step it up because he’s a big scoring punch for us,” Love said. “To lose him is really tough.”
Toronto made the first two baskets of the fourth to lead 90-80 with 10:11 left but Minnesota battled back with a 10-2 run over the next four minutes, including 3-pointers from Brewer and Telfair, to make it 92-90 with 6:09 remaining.
After a timeout, Bargnani made one of two from the line, followed that with a 3 and Weems added a jumper as Toronto pushed the lead to eight 98-90 with 4:53 to go.
DeRozan scored 10 points and Bargnani had nine in the first as the Raptors opened an eight-point lead, 27-19, with 3:50 to go in the opening quarter. But Telfair’s 3-pointer with less than a second left cut Toronto’s lead to two, 33-31, after 12 minutes.
Beasley called timeout and went to the locker room with 2:38 remaining in the second, unable to put weight on his left foot. Toronto led 59-55 at the half.
Bargnani scored 11 points in the third as the Raptors took an 86-80 lead into the final quarter.
Notes: The Timberwolves shot 12 for 30 from 3-point range. … Minnesota G Luke Ridnour(notes) missed his second straight game because of personal reasons, while G Wayne Ellington(notes) was also absent for personal reasons. … Toronto was without G Jerryd Bayless(notes) (sprained right knee) and G Leandro Barbosa(notes) (right hamstring). Barbosa, who has missed the past 11 games, returned to practice Thursday. … Calderon also had 19 assists against Chicago on March 29, 2009.