Scouting Report: Wolves (38-37) at Magic (21-55) | April 5, 2014
Timberwolves at Magic | 6:00 PM — Amway Center
Where to Watch: No TV
Where to Listen: 830 WCCO-AM
What a game in Miami last night. The Timberwolves went to two overtimes with the Heat and came away with a 122-121 victory against the two-time defending champions, ending a seven-game losing streak to Miami in the process.
Now, the challenge is regrouping and doing it all over again.
Minnesota will take on the Magic tonight in Orlando on the tail-end of a back-to-back. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m. The game is not on television but will be broadcast on 830 WCCO-AM.
In theory, when a team beats the top team in the East you’d expect them to turn around and top a 21-win Magic team the next night. That could very well be the case, but the Wolves will need to recover quickly from a playing 10 extra minutes of crunch-time basketball against a championship-caliber team the night before.
Not only that, but they did it shorthanded.
Minnesota was without starters Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin due to injury on Friday night, plus they lost Shabazz Muhammad to a knee injury in the first half and were without Dante Cunningham who did not travel with the team.
The Wolves opened the season against the Magic on Oct. 30 and came away with a 120-115 overtime win. Kevin Love led the way with 31 points and 17 boards. Kevin Martin added 23 points, nine coming from the free-throw line. Corey Brewer had 16 points and three steals. Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 11 assists and three steals. Nikola Pekovic and J.J. Barea each had 11 points, while Dante Cunningham added 10. The Wolves forced 18 Magic turnovers.
Arron Afflalo led Orlando with 28 points, nine coming from the 3-point line. Nikola Vucevic added 22 points and a team-high 16 boards. Jameer Nelson had 18 points, but was just 3-of-11 from the 3-point line. Rookie Victor Oladipo led the second unit with 14 points. Andrew Nichiolson (now with 76ers) and E’Twaun Moore had 13 and 10 points, respectively.
This Week’s Results
The Miami game on Friday night could qualify as the Wolves’ best win of the year. They did it on the road against the two-time defending champions, they did it navigating through three game-ending situations (regulation, first OT and second OT) and they were able to get a stop on Ray Allen’s game-ending shot when they needed it. The win puts the Wolves a game over .500 once again. Kevin Love finished with his 28 points and 11 rebounds, while Chase Budinger had 24 points off the bench in an impressive 7-of-9 performance from the field. Ricky Rubio had 14 assists. It came two nights after another impressive win—102-88 over the potentially playoff-bound Grizzlies.
The Magic have lost three straight, including games against the Raptors, Cavs and Bobcats. The latest loss came in Charlotte 91-80. Victor Oladipo had 21 points off the bench, while Tobias Harris had 15, Jameer Nelson had 11 and Kyle O’Quinn had 10.
What To Watch: Chase Budinger vs. Victor Oladipo
We got to see Chase Budinger’s best performance of the season last night, a 7-of-9 shooting performance that yielded 24 points in a big win over the Heat. That type of spark off the bench is what the Wolves envisioned from Budinger when they traded for him two summers ago and re-signed him last offseason. He’s been slowed by a pair of knee injuries, but if he’s starting to feel his shot and get back to pre-surgery form he’ll be an important piece of the Wolves’ reserve puzzle.
Speaking of sparks off the bench, Victor Oladipo has come off the bench recently and is providing that same spark. The rookie out of Indiana was coveted during the Draft last year because of his athleticism, work ethic and defensive presence. He’s averaging 14.1 points per game this season and is coming off a 21-point effort against the Bobcats. How much of an impact will he have against the Wolves tonight?
For Minnesota, Pekovic (right ankle bursitis) and Kevin Martin (sore right foot) are both questionable. Shabazz Muhammad, who left last night’s game with a knee injury, is also a question mark for tonight.
The Magic appear to be at full strength.
|PG||Ricky Rubio||Jameer Nelson|
|SG||J.J. Barea||Arron Afflalo|
|SF||Corey Brewer||Moe Harkless|
|PF||Kevin Love||Kyle O'Quinn|
|C||Gorgui Dieng||Nikola Vucevic|
*-Denotes Questionable Tonight