The Orlando Magic knocked the Minnesota Timberwolves to .500 Saturday night with a 100-92 victory. (Photo: Robert Judin)
October 30, that was the last time the Orlando Magic (22-55) and Minnesota Timberwolves (38-38) tipped off against each other. The Timberwolves took the 120-115 overtime win.[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaNH56Vpg-A&w=320&h=240]
The two teams squared off again Saturday night in what would turn out to be a 100-92 win for Orlando, and there was no love lost — except Kevin.
Minnesota’s leading scorer (26 ppg) and rebounder (12.6 rpg) was scratched from the lineup minutes before tip-off with back spasms. That was the toughest obstacle for an already injury-plagued Timberwolves squad that was also missing center Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin from its starting lineup.
“Missing a lot of people, we’re playing combinations we haven’t played before,” coach Rick Adelman said.
In the first half, the Magic took advantage of Love’s absence on the boards. Orlando out-rebounded Minnesota 20-15, with seven of the boards coming off the offensive glass.
But Orlando struggled to capitalize off those opportunities. The Magic managed to squeeze out only four second-chance points, allowing the Timberwolves to stay in the game.
Despite the fact the Timberwolves missed their first five shots from three, they held the lead going into halftime 48-46 after swapping the lead back and forth five times.
Timberwolves point guard Ricky Rubio dropped four dimes and eight points in the first half, but Minnesota couldn’t extend its lead past five.
That changed in the third quarter — thanks to Rubio.
He nearly doubled his first half stats with eight points and three assists in the third quarter. Rubio finished the game with 18 points and 10 assists.
As Love traded in hoisting threes for hoisting fists pumps, Rubio saw four Timberwolves step up to be his running mates.
Former Florida Gator Corey Brewer had 15 points and five steals. Minnesota’s Dante Cunningham added 12 points, and center Gorgui Dieng finished with 12 points and eight rebounds in place of Pekovic.
On the Magic’s side, Kyle O’Quinn dominated in every way, shape and form. O’Quinn torched Minnesota for a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds. He also swatted four shots.
Magic forward Maurice Harkless was perfect from behind the arc (3-3) with 17 points. Aaron Afflalo also dropped 18 points, but the difference in the game might have been the Magic bench.
Orlando’s 47 points off the bench was anchored by Tobias Harris and Victor Oladipo. The two young swingmen combined for 33 points and nine assists.
“Everybody contributed, and everybody just built off each other with the energy. It”s a ripple effect when everybody’s getting excited.” Harris said.
The game entered the fourth quarter with Minnesota leading 77-72, but the Magic bursted offensively, outscoring the Timberwolves 28-15 in the final period.
“That’s the biggest thing. I was just more aggressive,” Oladipo said. “I played with a lot more confidence, and we did a great job of sharing the ball today.”
The difference in the game came from the perimeter. Orlando knocked down 9-17 threes, while Minnesota hit 1-15 from deep.
Nothing really changes for either team. Minnesota is now a .500 team with only six games left, and Orlando is focusing on the NBA Draft in June. Both will be in the draft lottery because, with this loss, Minnesota is officially out of playoff contention.
Minnesota will now head back home to host the San Antonio Spurs Tuesday night, while the Magic will get the Brooklyn Nets back in Orlando on Wednesday.
To hear Brewer talk about Florida basketball and Minnesota’s loss to Orlando, click here: