Wolves vs. Magic Gameday

Jonah Ballow
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Wolves vs. Magic 7 PM - Target Center
Where to Watch: My29
Where to Listen: 1130 KFAN AM

*Get your questions on the radio airwaves during halftime! Just tweet questions to @WolvesRadio and listen to the halftime show hosted by John Focke on 1130 AM.

Notable Injuries:
* Michael Beasley (ankle) - QUESTIONABLE

Scouting Report:
Big Picture
Magic general manager Otis Smith sent shock waves throughout the NBA with a blockbuster trade that made his Eastern Conference contender a dangerous team but thin on the frontline. Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas, and Hedo Turkoglu replace Rashard Lewis, Morcin Gortat, and Vince Carter to give Orlando a completely different makeup heading into the second half of the season. Orlando instantly responded to the deal, reeling off nine straight victories, including impressive wins over San Antonio, Boston, New York, and Dallas. Surprisingly, the streak only moved the Magic to No. 5 in the top heavy Eastern Conference while Boston, Miami, Chicago, and Atlanta continue to hold ground in the latest standings. At 25-14, Orlando is facing a bit of adversity since the deal with a two-game skid heading into the matchup against Minnesota tonight. Two more road contests will conclude a lengthy five-game road trip that ends in Boston on Monday.

Last Time Out
Dwight Howard’s 39 points and 18 boards could not elevate the Magic over Oklahoma City on Thursday nigh. The Thunder managed to escape their home floor with a 125-124 victory prior to Orlando jetting for the Twin Cities.

The Wolves finally closed out an opposing team in the final 12 minutes behind a 27-point fourth quarter and subsequent 109-97 home win.

The Numbers Game
Kevin Love posted his 26 straight double-double on Thursday night and is now chasing former Wolves forward Kevin Garnett for the longest streak. Garnett racked up 37 in a row from 2005-07. The overall double-double race is heating up between Love and Blake Griffin as the rookie owns a total of 31 behind Love’s 35. Last year’s leader in that category, Howard is sitting in third place with 29 double-doubles through 37 games.

Match-up to Watch
Darko Milicic vs. Dwight Howard
Howard is averaging a career-high in points and hauling down 13.4 boards to go along with 2.30 blocks this year. Over the past three games, the MVP candidate has lived up to preseason expectations and been down right scary. The prolific perimeter scoring options for Orlando allows Howard to work deep in the post for easy high percentage shots. As a true 7-footer, Darko Milicic must stay away from foul trouble and challenge Howard on the glass. Love will help with some of the rebounding work load but at the power forward position, he will be busy with Magic big man Brandon Bass, who is now in the starting lineup. Milicic’s ability to defend Howard straight up will also help Minnesota’s perimeter defenders stay at home on the trigger happy Orlando shooters.

What to Look For
In the first meeting, the Magic pounded the Wolves 128-86 at the new Amway Arena. Minnesota has vastly improved since that early November matchup and Orlando features a new group of defensive assignments. At the small forward spot, keep an eye on Turkoglu as he has enjoyed a successful return to his former squad and is capable of monster offensive performances. Michael Beasley remains questionable for the contest in dealing with a sore ankle, which could force Wes Johnson or Corey Brewer to draw the defensive responsibilities on Turkoglu.

The Wolves will need to limit Orlando’s 3-point attack tonight. The Magic are a high volume shooting team from downtown and space the floor better than any other group in the league. The inside-outside threat is extremely difficult to defend but challenging each attempt from the 3-point arc will effectively make Orlando a one dimensional opponent.
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