After recording consecutive victories for the first time in nearly a month, a healthier Toronto Raptors team will push for more Saturday night in a road game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The defending NBA champions crushed the visiting Washington Wizards 140-111 on Friday, two days after they got the best of the Thunder by scoring 130 points at Oklahoma City. A resurgent offense is no surprise with a number of Toronto players back in the mix.
The last time the Raptors won as many as two consecutive games was during their five-game winning streak from Dec. 14-22. Since then, it has been an on-again, off-again run that included four home defeats in a 4-6 stretch that tested the team's resolve prior to the Wednesday and Friday victories.
However, with Pascal Siakam (groin) and Norman Powell (shoulder) returning Sunday, and then Marc Gasol (hamstring) playing two games since his return, the Raptors are looking more like themselves. Fred VanVleet (hamstring) is expected to be back Saturday after missing five games.
Powell had 28 points and Siakam had 12 against Washington. Gasol contributed 20 points while tying his career high for made 3-pointers in a game at six (in seven attempts). Now comes a chance for coach Nick Nurse to dial in his preferred rotations.
"I think it's time to start honing that in a little bit, and I think it starts with a lot of experimenting," Nurse said, according to the Toronto Star. "And I think we want to be flexible."
Nurse will have plenty to work with. Not only did all five Raptors starters score in double figures Friday, but so did two reserves. And the two players off the bench were the high scorers, Powell and Terence Davis (23 points).
The Wolves can relate when it comes to getting healthier. It's the part about stringing together victories that is tough to identify with.
Minnesota is back home after falling 116-114 at Indiana on Friday, the Timberwolves' fourth consecutive defeat. The Wolves have won consecutive games once since the start of the new year, but the last time it occurred before that, the turkey was thawing for Thanksgiving dinner.
Minnesota center Karl-Anthony Towns made his return from a sprained left knee Friday after missing the previous 15 games. But with the team dedicated to easing him back into action, he could end up a scratch for Saturday's back-to-back contest.
"He hasn't played for a while here, so rhythm will be a factor," Wolves coach Ryan Saunders said about Towns before Friday's game. "Wind will be a factor, so we'll take all those things into consideration."
Looking spry, Towns scored 27 points on 9-of-21 shooting in the Friday defeat, the second loss in two games to the Pacers.
"It felt good," Towns said postgame of getting back to action, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "I had to take my time and had an unfortunate setback getting sick. If I could really say, I'm just so happy basketball is here for me, because it was some great therapy for me today."
Andrew Wiggins added 22 points as Minnesota lost for the fifth time in six games.
The Wolves are expected to get Allen Crabbe into the mix for the first time Saturday. He was acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday in exchange for Jeff Teague and Treveon Graham.
Shabazz Napier played 30 minutes as the starting point guard for the Wolves on Friday, dishing out nine assists while scoring 12 points.
--Field Level Media