The Minnesota Timberwolves fell another game behind the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference standings on Wednesday night, blowing a big first-half lead in a 125-102 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
The Timberwolves entered the night looking for their first win in Toronto since 2004. Karl-Anthony Towns put them in a position to achieve that goal early, executing a beautiful dime to Anthony Edwards for a first-quarter slam.
It appeared like it was going to be the Timberwolves' night as Towns stuffed the stat sheet in the first quarter. By getting to the rim with ease, Towns laid the foundation with eight of his 16 points in the opening quarter.
But despite building a 17-point lead in the second quarter, Toronto got back into the game thanks to the Timberwolves' turnovers. Just like Sunday night's loss in Boston, Minnesota had trouble hanging onto the ball, coughing it up 22 times.
The Raptors also used a white-hot shooting performance, shooting 50 percent overall from the floor including 18 3-pointers.
With Toronto unable to miss, the Raptors outscored the Timberwolves 77-52 in the second and third quarters. Gary Trent Jr. led the way with a game-high 29 points and six 3-pointers to bury the Timberwolves and hand them another critical loss.
After the Nuggets ( won at Indiana, Denver jumped ahead of the Utah Jazz (45-31) for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves (43-34) are now three games behind the Nuggets and 2.5 games behind the Jazz for the sixth seed and an automatic playoff berth in the Western Conference.
Although they'll have a chance to gain ground when they travel to Denver on Friday night, the Nuggets' schedule includes four of their last five games against non-playoff teams. The Jazz has a tougher road ahead with games against the Golden State Warriors, Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns among their last five.
At this point, the Timberwolves look destined for a spot in the play-in tournament. For that to change, the charge will need to begin on Friday night.