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TORONTO — When Kyle Lowry drilled his sixth three-pointer of the night Monday, he shot a grin at his bench.
The Toronto Raptors point guard, who showed up at training camp significantly more trim and fit, poured in 40 points — a franchise record for the pre-season — to lift the Raptors to a 112-105 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
“I’ll tell you what, I want him to save some of those, he’s hot as a firecracker,” said Raptors coach Dwane Casey.
Cory Joseph added 14, Jonas Valanciunas had 13 points, while Luis Scola had 12 and DeMarre Carroll finished with 11 for Toronto (3-1).
Andrew Wiggins, the reigning NBA rookie of the year from Vaughan, Ont., led the T’Wolves (0-3) with 21 points in 18 minutes
Lowry, who was terrific early on last season but struggled down the stretch, worked hard on his body in the off-season, and the results have been obvious.
“He was unbelievable tonight, he was making everything,” Joseph said. “He could probably have turned backwards and threw it at the rim, it probably would have went in.”
Lowry racked up his points in just 28 minutes, shooting 13-for-18 from the field, 6-for-9 from behind the arc, and hit all eight free throws.
Lowry, wearing a Blue Jays jacket in the post-game locker-room, shrugged off his prolific night, saying the record meant “not a damn thing.”
“I’ve felt pretty comfortable every game. For me it’s about maintaining, start off well, finish well,” he added. “It’s only pre-season.”
Vince Carter held the previous pre-season record of 38 points.
The game was a homecoming, not just for Wiggins, who purchased 16 courtside seats for the game, but for Raptors Joseph and Anthony Bennett — both were playing their first games in Toronto for their hometown team.
“I was excited to play in front of my family, fans, friends,” Joseph said. “Thanksgiving, so happy Thanksgiving to all the Canadians out there. We had our Thanksgiving the other night, they came out here to support me. A lot of love floating around here.”
Bennett, whose defence has been impressive thus far, had five rebounds to go with three points in 19 minutes.
Wiggins’ older brother Nick, signed by Minnesota last month, also got into the game, scoring four points in the final five minutes.
“It was huge for the city and for the country, four Canadians on the floor,” Joseph said. “Even though it’s pre-season. . . it’s unbelievable, it just goes to show how much talent we have here in Canada and we’re moving up the ranks.”
Andrew Wiggins scored the game’s first five points, on a three-pointer then a dunk and had 10 points in a quarter that saw the T’Wolves lead 26-25.
Lowry had 22 points and Wiggins had 21 by the time the two teams headed to the locker-room at halftime, with the Raptors up 60-59.
Lowry poured in 19 in the third quarter as the Raptors started to pull away, taking a 96-90 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Raptors rested DeMar DeRozan while Kevin Garnett didn’t play for the T’Wolves, for the same reason.
The Raptors game tipped off just as the Blue Jays were sealing their victory against the Texas Rangers to force a Game 5 of their American League Division Series.
Casey said he would have forgiven a sparse crowd, but 19,277 fans showed up.
“If there’s nobody here tonight, they’ve got a good excuse,” Casey said prior to tipoff.
“I’m a baseball man, grew up playing baseball, coaching it. . . I think all our players, they’re all in (the locker-room) watching it so, don’t let them tell you they don’t like baseball.”
The Raptors and T’Wolves meet again in Ottawa on Wednesday as part of the NBA’s Canada Series, which featured sold-out games in Winnipeg and Vancouver, and then Ottawa and Montreal. The Raptors play the Washington Wizards in Montreal to cap the series on Oct. 23.
Lori Ewing, The Canadian Press
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