The shot was the dagger, a corner three-pointer right in front of the Minnesota Timberwolves bench with about a minute left, and DeMar DeRozan knew it.

He’d heard some chirping from the Timberwolves earlier in the game, but the last laugh is always the best, and as the ball ripped through the cords of the net, he turned to the bench, glared, let loose a couple of words not suitable for publication and trotted back down the court.

It was the punctuation mark on a delightful fourth quarter for both DeRozan and Kyle Lowry as the Raptors dumped the Timberwolves 111-104 — and it looked like DeRozan was having all the fun in the world.

“When you’re an all-star, you’re growing up, your true self starts to come out a little bit,” Lowry said of DeRozan. “He’s a quiet guy but when you’re winning and you’re a leader, you’ve got to do it.”
And you’ve go to do it because it feels great to give as good as you get.

“You know, they got a little hyped when they made a couple of buckets,” said DeRozan, who finished with 25 points including 10 in the final quarter. “We like playing on the road and playing under duress. I kind of got it from Greivis (Vasquez). When he hits a big shot, he always shows off a little bit.

“It’s all the competitive level that’s in all of us when you hit a big shot.”

Hitting big shots was a team-wide phenomenon for the Raptors, who played without key backup Patrick Patterson, who will miss at least a week or 10 days with a sprained nerve in his elbow.

Lowry had his second triple double of the season and fifth of his career — 20 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists — while Steve Novak was pressed into action and made five three-pointers.

It was a thorough and impressive win, pulled out in the fourth quarter against a tough team that had won nine of its last 11 games.
Toronto was clinging to a two-point lead with five minutes to go but went on an 11-3 run in a four-minute span to put the game away.

“(Vasquez) always says it to me and the coaches, they always say ‘winning plays’ and that’s what we go by,” said Lowry, who had been in something of a shooting slump. “No matter who it is, especially me, if my shot’s not falling, take a charge, get a couple steals, do this or that. At the end of the day, I’m still (going to) go out there and play as hard as possible.”