Wolves Edge Magic In OT, 120-115
Wolves Edge Magic In OT, 120-115
Wednesday night’s home opener against the Orlando Magic was anything but boring for Timberwolves fans.
Excited. Nervous. Stressed. Thrilled. Too. Many. Nachos.
Wolves vs. Magic
After a busy offseason of trades, signings and projections, Minnesota finally hit the court and came away with a 120-115 overtime win over the Orlando Magic.
The team celebrated its 25th season before the game and brought that momentum into the game. Either that or every player has been itching to play a meaningful game after three weeks of preseason ball.
The Wolves came out firing early from the 3-point line. They ended the first quarter 4-of-6 from deep, something the 2012-13 team would have been impressed by. Offense was supposed to be a strength of this team and the Wolves flexed that muscle in the first, scoring 38 points while shooting 59.1 percent from the field.
J.J. Barea played just two minutes in the quarter, but the electric backup guard led the team with nine points. Corey Brewer, Kevin Love and Kevin Martin all added seven. Love also added seven rebounds.
Things slowly changed for both teams. The Wolves didn’t have the same offensive punch in the second quarter, but still had their moments. Orlando fought back and outscored Minnesota 25-22, thanks to strong bench-play from E’Twaun Moore and Andrew Nicholson, who both had 10 points at the break.
Love led all scorers with 12 points going into half to go along with nine rebounds. Barea had 11 points off the bench. Brewer added 10, while shooting 4-of-5 from the field. The Wolves shot 46.7 percent going into the break, including a mark of 40 percent from the 3-point line.
Highly-touted rookie Victor Oladipo had seven points in 15 minutes of play.
Things got a little too close for comfort in the third quarter, though. The Magic got within one after an Oladipo dunk. The Wolves went on a 6-0 run thanks from three points from both Love and Ronny Turiaf to give them an 87-80 lead and some breathing room going into the final quarter.
And the real excitement hadn’t even started yet.
The game went back and forth in the final quarter and it looked like it was all over when the Magic took a 3-point lead with less than one minute left in the game.
Ricky Rubio drove to the left side and dished out to a wide-open Love at the top of the 3-point line and the big man buried the 3-pointer to send the game to overtime.
“Yeah, I mean every shot tonight felt good but only about half of them went in,” Love said. “But we were fortunate to make a great play. Ricky made a great pass, and I just let it fly.”
In overtime, the Wolves outscored the Magic 17-12, thanks to seven points from shooting guard Martin, to clinch their first win of the season.
"No, I don't think we want to afford to lose any game like that,” Martin said. “Especially when we're up 16 to 14 in the middle of the first quarter, great teams learn how to bump that up to 20 and we'll learn that over time and it was a great learning experience."
Love led all scorers with 31 points to go along with a game-high 17 rebounds. After struggling early on, Martin came to life in the fourth quarter and in overtime. He had 11 points in the final two periods, giving him 23 on the night.
Brewer earned the start at small forward and finished with 16 points, impressing Adelman long with way.
“Well, he was the best guy we had starting and at the end of the day, he was our best solution in that spot.”
Arron Afflalo had a strong second half, scoring 20 of his 28 points in the final 29 minutes. He also added nine rebounds. Big man Nikola Vucevic finished with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Point guard Jameer Nelson scored 18 while dishing out eight assists. Oladipo added 14 off the bench.
“We’re just happy to get first game in general, win or lose, obviously better to win, out of the way so now we can just go out there and hopefully play but we know that Friday night it’s hard, especially against a team like Oklahoma City,” Love said. “It’s going to be an electric crowd.”
Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love
After missing 64 games last season, fans were starting to forget how special Kevin Love was. They were reminded quickly in Wednesday night’s game. It only took Love until the third quarter to reach a double-double.
“I thought he played a terrific game,” Adelman said. “He set the tone early in the game by just rebounding.”
Love did a bit more than rebounding. He finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds to go along with four assists. His four assists don’t sound like much, but Love was able to find teammates, especially Pekovic in overtime when it counted most.
It was Love’s 19th career 30 + point and 15 + rebound game of his career. Since he’s entered the league, only Dwight Howard has more (23).
Highlight of the Night
It wasn’t only the highlight of the night, it was the savior of the night. With 10.1 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Love received a pass Rubio and launched a 3-point shot. As the ball sunk in, the crowd erupted and Love rushed to halfcourt after and Orlando timeout and pounded his chest. Afflalo went on to miss the game-winning shot and the game was sent to overtime.
“We’ve been working on different things when we needed a 3 and the two guys that were next to him did a great job of squeezing,” Adelman said. “He was able to come through and get a wide open look. He shoots that thing long distance about as good as anybody.”
The Numbers Game
Quote of the Night
“This is not a perfect game. It’s a game of mistakes. What you’re trying to do is build on it. And there’s a lot of good things. We scored 120 points or whatever it was. We had some really good moments, but then the second half, some guys that did well the first half didn’t do much in the second half and we need to find a way to do it both halves.” – Rick Adelman on the team dropping off after the 38 points in the first quarter.
The Timberwolves will stay at home when they take on Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder (1-0) on Friday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Fox Sports North and 830 WCCO-AM. The Wolves and Thunder split the four-game series last season. Oklahoma City is coming off of a 101-98 win over the Utah Jazz.
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