Toronto Raptors defeat Timberwolves to go 5-0, matching best-ever season start

Kawhi Leonard scored a season-high 35 points to help the Toronto Raptors improve to 5-0 with a 112-105 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, matching their best-ever start to a season.

Toronto also won five straight to open the 2015-16 campaign. The Raptors can tie the franchise record for consecutive home victories to start a season (five, set in 2014-15 and 2003-04) on Friday when they host Dallas.

It was Toronto’s 15th straight home victory over Minnesota — a franchise record for consecutive games against a single opponent at home. Toronto has not lost at home to the Timberwolves since Jan. 21, 2004.

Toronto’s Kyle Lowry had his third-straight double-double with 13 points and 10 assists.

Raptors big men Serge Ibaka (15) and Jonas Valanciunas (16) combined for 31 points. Valanciunas, a seven-footer, hit two three-pointers on the night to the delight of the sellout crowd of 19,800 at Scotiabank Arena.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: With no Leonard, Lowry leads Toronto Raptors past Washington Wizards 117-113

Jimmy Butler had 23 points to lead the Timberwolves (2-3), who were without injured Canadian Andrew Wiggins.

Toronto led 83-74 after three quarters, pulling ahead with an 11-4 run to open the fourth quarter.

Minnesota narrowed the margin to 106-101 with 1:16 remaining thanks to a 7-0 run. A Leonard bucket and a pair of free throws — to chants of “MVP, MVP” — helped soothe the hometown nerves.

It was another fast start for Toronto, which led 18-9 at the first timeout of the game with 5:50 remaining in the first. The Raptors were shooting 8-of-11 with Leonard four-of-five at the time.

Story continues below advertisement

Toronto led by as many as 13, but a 10-4 Minnesota run at the end of the quarter narrowed the Toronto advantage to 26-19. An 8-0 run to start the second gave Minnesota its first lead of the game at 27-26.

Valanciunas finally ended the visitors’ 13-0 run with a put-back, and Toronto regained its lead with a 9-0 run that featured a slashing Leonard one-handed dunk.

Leonard had 18 points in a first half that featured an amazing no-look steal, in which he somehow got his big mitts on a Gorgui Dieng bounce pass while falling facing the other direction.

READ MORE: Kawhi Leonard drops 31 in Raptors win over Celtics

Toronto led 57-48 at the break, with Minnesota staying in touch thanks to seven-of-12 three-point shooting. The Raptors had held Charlotte to nine of 28 three-point attempts Monday.

Wiggins, from nearby Vaughan, Ont., missed the game with a right thigh contusion that forced him out of the Timberwolves’ 101-91 home win Monday over Indiana in the first quarter.

“Obviously, being from here, he tried to do all that he could. It just didn’t work out,” coach Tom Thibodeau said prior to the game.

It marked only the second time in 332 career regular-season NBA games that Wiggins has sat out. He also missed one game in the 2015 season.

Story continues below advertisement

Josh Okogie started in place of Wiggins, who had averaged 24 points a game against Toronto. The Georgia Tech rookie drew oohs from the crowd with a high-flying put-back dunk in the third quarter.

Delon Wright returned to action for the Raptors after missing the first four games due to an adductor strain. Fred VanVleet, however, was sidelined with a sprained left big toe.