GameDay LIVE Blog: Wolves (0-0) vs. Magic (0-1) | Oct. 30, 2013
Final: The Wolves win 120-115 in OT. Apologies for the internet issues tonight. Will have much more after tonight’s locker room access right here on Timberwolves.com. MIN 120, ORL 115
OT 29.2: Martin hit an open jumper off the Pekovic pick, and then Rubio just hit a pair of free throws to put the Wolves up 117-111 with 29.2 to play. MIN 117, ORL 111
OT 1:29: Two huge plays by the Wolves to grow their lead and kill some time. Pek scores off a Love dish at the shot clock, and then Ricky forced a turnover on the inbound pass. Timeout Orlando, who has the ball after a Wolves miss on their last possession. MIN 113, ORL 107
OT 2:36: The Wolves are coming up big here in OT. A huge steal leads to a Brewer transition jam, a big hoop and 1 by Pek and another hoop and harm on a runner from Martin that puts the Wolves up 111-107 heading into this timeout. The crowd is right behind this team. They believe, and the Wolves do, too. This is the most electric it’s been inside Target Center for a Wolves game since the Budinger game-winner against Indiana last November. MIN 111-107
Q4 10.1: Oh my, Love drains a 3 from the wing to tie it 103-103 with 10.1 left. Timeout Orlando. Crowd goes nuts as Love gestures to them after the basket. MIN 103, ORL 103
Q4 12.5 Arron Afflalo came up with a steal and scored to make it 101-100. The Wolves missed on the next possession, and with about 12 seconds left the Wolves will have the ball coming out of a timeout down three. ORL 103, MIN 100
Q4 1:15: Corey Brewer just flew out of nowhere off a Rubio miss and put back a layup that put the Wolves back up 100-99. Great play by Brewer who might have made the play of the game if Minnesota holds on. MIN 100, ORL 99
Q4 2:40: The Magic just snagged their first lead in more than 2 ½ quarters minutes ago, and they’re up 99-92 with 2:40 to play. The Wolves went cold over the last few minutes and have let Orlando get back into the game and take the lead. Arron Afflalo has 22 points to lead the Magic. The Wolves are led by Love’s 27 points and 15 boards, but they need to get some stops and put together some solid offensive possessions here to take control back. ORL 99, MIN 98
Q4 6:02: The Wolves are living up to their expectations of being solid offensively--they've slowed down a bit efficiency-wise this half but they still have 93 points with six minutes to go. The problem is they're not answering many questions about their defense right now. A lot of wide-open 3-point attempts and a few situations where box outs weren't existent. These last six minutes will be telling. MIN 93, ORL 92
Q4 8:50: We'll have a little bit of a battle here down the stretch. Minnesota isn't relinquishing the lead, but they aren't expanding it, either. They're up four at the first fourth quarter timeout. The last few offensive sets haven't looked very crisp and have included a couple airballs and a shot clock violation. But Kevin Martin did just hit DC for a jumper inside the arc moments ago, and that was a pretty play. The key is picking up the aggressiveness that they had in the first half. That intensity carried over from offense to defense and vice-versa. MIN 91, ORL 86
End Q3: The Wolves endured a couple runs here in the third, and they're heading into the fourth with an 87-80 lead. Love has 24 and 14, Martin and Brew each have 12 and Rubio and Barea each have 11. Rubio also has seven assists. For the Magic, Arron Afflalo has 17 points to lead the team. MIN 87, ORL 80
Q3 4:03: The Magic are having their chances to cut this game close, and they’ve been succeeding thanks to some open 3-point attempts after failed rotations by the Wolves’ defense. But Minnesota just battled back with a 3-pointer by Rubio from straight away, and on the next possession after a defensive stop Rubio drove and scored at the rim to put the Wolves up seven. Rubio has 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) and he’s got seven assists and three boards. MIN 77, ORL 71
Q3 5:47: The Wolves led by as many as 17 in the first half and by eight at halftime, but they're in a battle right now. Orlando just cut it to one at 69-68 before Kevin Martin hit a corner 3 that rattled around every portion of the rim. Love also just had a nice basket in the paint off a Rubio dish--he's got 19 and 11 tonight. Minnesota up four midway through the third. Afflalo is the culprit for Orlando. He's got 17 and is 2-of-3 from 3-point range. MIN 72, ORL 68
Halftime: Nice first half for the Wolves, which ends with a sweet tip-in by Dante Cunningham off a Corey Brewer missed three. That put the Wolves up eight heading into the half. Love has 12 points and nine boards to lead the team in both categories, while Barea has 11 points, Brewer has 10 points and Martin has nine. The Wolves have cooled off a bit offensively but are still shooting 46.7 percent from the field. For Orlando, Moore and Nicholson each have 10 off the bench, Vucevic and Afflalo have eight. MIN 60, ORL 52
Q2 2:54: It's worth noting that Corey Brewer is having an awesome first half here in his Wolves re-debut. He's got 10 points on 4-of-4 shooting, hit a 3 from the wing and is getting out in transition. He and Barea are a combined 8-of-9 with 21 points this half. Also, I like the 80s music being played here tonight. We've also had a couple Ghostbuster references, which I'm always pumped about. MIN 55, ORL 45
Q2 4:39: And just like that, the Magic come back with a couple baskets on a couple defensive possessions that were less than stellar, and the Wolves call a timeout up 50-40. Also, during the timeout we had Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve and Seimone Augustus on the big screen. They got a really nice ovation from the fans here in Target Center. MIN 50, ORL 40
Q2 6:20: The Wolves are looking fantastic right now. They’re still shooting 52.9 percent, hitting 57.1 percent from 3 and their defense is starting to pick up. Rubio just picked up a steal and took it in for 2 the other way, giving the Wolves a 14-point lead midway through the second quarter. MIN 50, ORL 36
Q2 9:23: I’m really liking what I’m seeing out of J.J. Barea tonight. He’s 3-of-3 with nine points, but he’s also very aware of where his teammates are on the court and is finding them with some nice passes. He picked up his first assists on a bounce pass to Dante Cunningham, who drained a shot from just inside the arc (his trademark spot). Then he hit Turiaf cutting to the basket—Turiaf didn’t score, but it was another very aware play. Barea was on a roll for Puerto Rico this summer, and if he continues that type of play this season he’s going to be a handful off the bench. MIN 44, ORL 29
End Q1: Really nice start for the Wolves. Adelman talked about fast starts at home, and Minnesota did just that on the offensive end. They shot 59.1 percent from the field and hit 4-of-6 from behind the arc. They also hit 8-of-8 from the field. Love, Brewer and Martin each have seven points. Barea has nine points off the bench and is 3-of-3 from the field. The Magic are also shooting well from the field at 52.2 percent. E’Twaun Moore leads the team with 10 points off the bench. MIN 38, ORL 27
Q1 1:51: The Wolves went on an 8-0 run, but Orlando responded with a run of its own to make it 25-21. We’ve gotten a look at Ronny Turiaf on the floor so far, and we’ve also got Alexey Shved and J.J. Barea checking in right now. Love is a rebounding machine tonight (as usual). He has six boards to go with seven points here in the first. He’s also 4-of-4 from the line. The Wolves are still shooting very well tonight, hitting 52 percent of their shots. Just before this last timeout. Turiaf swatted an Orlando attempt in the paint, and Corey Brewer scored on the other end to make it 29-21 with 1:51 left in the first. MIN 29, ORL 21
Q1 5:32: The Wolves are starting out shooting 6-of-12 from the field and are 1-of-3 from 3-point range—the lone trey coming from Kevin Martin. But the Wolves are attacking the paint pretty well. Eight of their first 10 points were down low, led by four from Pek. Rubio also with four, and Martin has five. Also, Victor Oladipo has entered for the Magic giving Minnesota fans their first look at a prospect that was watched closely in May and June round these parts. MIN 15, ORL 10
Magic: PG-Jameer Nelson, SG-Arron Afflalo, SF-Moe Harkless, PG-Jason Maxiell, C-Nikola Vucevic
Wolves: PG-Ricky Rubio, SG-Kevin Martin, SF-Corey Brewer, PF-Kevin Love, C-Nikola Pekovic
As a side note, all dressed Wolves players were announced tonight during warmups for the first game of the season, and all of them came out of the Huberts tunnel when their name was called with a spotlight, Miami Hurricanes smoke billowing and a nice touch of music. Well done by the game ops crew. Also, tonight's National Anthem was performed by Ashley DuBose, a St. Paul native who is a recent contestant on NBC's The Voice. Pulling out all the stops for Opening Night!
Pregame 6:55 PM: One quick note about tonight. Very cool National Anthem singer and halftime performance. Also, there is a cool pregame introduction. If you're in the house tonight, you're in for a real treat. We're minutes away from the pregame show taking place.
Also, Ricky Rubio dunked during warmups. I repeat, Ricky Rubio dunked during warmups. He went baseline and threw down one-handed, then gave a little yell afterwards. I saw him do it for the first time at camp. Gotta love it. I could get used to seeing that more often.
Pregame 6:40 PM: Coach Rick Adelman will start Corey Brewer at the small forward position tonight, but after that is still a mystery with this rotation at the 3. One thing we do know is Adelman sounds unsure what that position will look like a game or two from now as the Wolves take on two teams in OKC and New York that have the capability of putting the top two scorers from a year ago on the court at that position in Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony. That is a mighty big challenge.
For now, though, Adelman likes Brewer's energy in the starting lineup and wants to try and get the team off to a fast start. He said Brewer has played well with the starters, and the team will go from there.
But expect to see a variety of players in that position, whether it's tonight or over the next few nights.
The small forward spot is one area where the Wolves are looking to lock up their rotation, but overall Adelman said the biggest thing he's looking for tonight is how the team will play at home after two sub-par efforts during the preseason at Target Center.
He said the team still has a lot to prove despite lofty expectations from within and outside the organization. Those expectations are good, he said, because it means the team has a lot to play for. But the Wolves need to come out with the right attitude to make that happen.
"I know we can be pretty darn good offensively if we're playing the way we're supposed to play," Adelman said. "Defensively is another matter. And the other thing that I want to see this group do is they seem to lose their concentration, you know? They have things going pretty good, and then they just kick back like they've got it made. You can't do that in this league. I watched Indiana last night, they turned it up a notch, you know? That’s what this team has to learn and they got to learn it together. We’ve got to learn it quickly."
Pregame 6:15 PM: Think about the old school centers in the NBA today. There aren't that many that bring physicality the way they used to in past generations. With most teams going small much of the time and creating a faster-paced, perimeter game. So when a team gets Roy Hibbert and Nikola Pekovic on back-to-back nights to star the season, it's not exactly easing your front court into the upcoming NBA campaign.
"Great challenge for our young group to see how we respond from one night to the next," Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. "We know we have to box out tonight and we'll have our hands full as far as keeping them off the boards. Statistically in the preseason, they were great at second chance points. Because those big guys in the middle provide that opportunity."
The Wolves will provide a little change of pace from the Pacers—Hibbert is a 7-footer with shot-blocking potential (he had 7 last night), where as Pekovic and Kevin Love are a tandem that will be more suited for problematic matchups offensively and on the boards.
Still, Vaughn's group of Vucevic and Jason Maxiell will have their hands full on the second night of the season.
Speaking of Vucevic, he said he met Pekovic on the Montenegro National Team and has tried to model his game after him.
"He's like a role model for people there," Vucevic said. "He's probably one of the best players to come out of Montenegro. A lot of young people look about to him. Everyone knows who he is. A lot of young guys that really like him and watch him play. He has a big fan base over there."
He and Pek met up today after shootaround over at the Magic's hotel. They'll get re-acquainted again tonight on the court in about 45 minutes.
Pregame 3:00 PM: One thing that's interesting about this matchup is the head-to-head battle at center between Nikola Pekovic and Nikola Vucevic. Both have been teammates together on the Montenegro National Team, and when Vucevic entered the league as a first round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2011 he sought out Pekovic's advice. Vucevic left Philly for Orlando as part of the four-team Dwight Howard deal that sent DH12 to Los Angeles. There, he blossomed into a rising star center in the league. The 7-foot-0, 250-pound big man averaged 13.1 points and 11.9 boards last year for the Magic, and he's a big part of where this team is headed in the future.
"He's a big player," forward Kevin Love said. "You know Pek knows him pretty well. He's a load in there, and anytime Pek says that you know it must be true. I think he continues to get better, continues to work, and he's going to be a load to handle tonight."
That sets up an intriguing Nikola vs. Nikola battle in the paint. You like the Wolves' chances, K-Love?
"Yeah, yes, yes," Love said, smiling. "I'll take Pek any day."
More on this matchup throughout the night.
Pregame 2:30 PM: Welcome back to Target Center for the Wolves’ regular season opener against the Orlando Magic. Tipoff tonight will be at 7 PM on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM, and as always you can follow along via my pregame/in-game blog here on Timberwolves.com as well as on Twitter (@MNTimberwolves, @Twolves_PR, @Kyle_Ratke & @MarkRemme).
And here we are, back for the 25th season of Timberwolves basketball. If you get a chance to come down tonight, it should be a pretty impressive atmosphere. Towels are on every seat in the arena bowl right now, and there should be a pretty cool introduction for the players when they do starting lineups tonight.
Optimism is very high around here, and with good reason. The Wolves are healthy, they’re balanced and the team is filled with players who want nothing more than to lead this team to the playoffs for the first time since 2003-04.
“We’re trying to build something important here,” Ricky Rubio said.
The Magic are building, too.
They’re shaping their team for the future, and it will likely take them a few years before they’re fully ready to contend in the Eastern Conference. Since Dwight Howard left in 2012, the Magic have been trying to regroup. They’re getting there, adding Nikola Vucevic and Arron Afflalo before last season and drafting Victor Oladipo this summer.
Orlando is coming off a 97-87 loss to the Pacers last night, and the two biggest things to note from the loss is the Magic got to the line just 10 times (6-of-10) and were blocked 18 times. Seven of those came from rim-protecting big Roy Hibbert, and five more came from David West. The Wolves are not looked at as a strong rim-protecting team, so watch that stat and see if Minnesota is able to accumulate blocked shots tonight.
I’ll be updating throughout the day, so keep posted here as we head closer to game time. Jacque Vaughn will speak at 5:30 p.m., and Rick Adelman will speak at 5:45. The pregame locker room this year will be open from 5:45-6:15. We’ll keep you up to date on all the news and notes from the teams leading up to tipoff and throughout the game.
Here are your pregame notes for tonight’s game: