The Orlando Magic might be one of the younger, more inexperienced teams in the league. But on this night, specifically in the fourth quarter, they looked like a team with a bunch of proven vets who know what it takes to win in the NBA. The Magic outscored the Minnesota Timberwolves by 24 in that final frame to cruise to a 115-97 victory.
The first few minutes of the fourth quarter belonged to Cole Anthony. The last few minutes belonged to Franz Wagner. Anthony scored 11 of his season-high 31 points in the first six minutes of the period, while Wagner scored 10 of his career-high 28 in the last six minutes. Wagner’s last bucket was an emphatic driving dunk over a couple Minnesota defenders.
The Magic have what it takes to be an elite defensive team. They demonstrated that in Minnesota, especially in the fourth. The T-Wolves, in large part because of Orlando’s physicality and tenacity, shot just 4-of-21 from the field in those final 12 minutes. Minnesota missed 15 threes in the fourth. They took 51 of them throughout the game.
Anthony and Wagner became the second set of Magic teammates 21-or-younger to both score 25-plus in the same game. It was also accomplished on March 23, 2001 at Milwaukee by Tracy McGrady (33) and Mike Miller (28), per Sportradar.
Jalen Suggs, playing in his hometown for the first time as a pro, met up with another Minnesotan sensation before Monday’s game. Mason Doherty, who has Down syndrome, made an unforgettable buzzer-beating shot for his high school team against Suggs’ team in February 2020. Celebration ensued following the shot, with players from both teams, including Suggs, rushing to the court to share in that precious moment.
Out for Orlando were Gary Harris (left ankle sprain), Michael Carter-Williams (left ankle), Jonathan Isaac (left knee), Markelle Fultz (left knee) and E’Twaun Moore (left knee sprain). The only unavailable player for Minnesota was McKinley Wright IV (G League; Two-Way).
The Timberwolves are a team on the rise. They have a legit Big Three with Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell. The key going forward for Minnesota is depth, and whether the bench can produce enough, especially in big games against quality opponents. Malik Beasley, who played one year at Florida State before declaring for the 2016 NBA Draft, could be the Wolves’ X-factor. He’s gotten off to a slow start but is more than capable of delivering when needed.
Quote of the Night
“He’s (head coach Jamahl Mosley) been preaching that since day one. We’ve done a pretty good job now of just like making that a priority. The offense is going to take care of itself…It’s been the defensive end for us. It’s really just (about) having to lock in. Just listening to the coaches.” – Anthony on having the right defensive mindset
The Magic return home to play five straight at Amway Center, starting with a matchup on Wednesday night against the Boston Celtics, an opponent they saw twice during the preseason. Tip-off is 7 p.m. The Celtics, who were also in action Monday hosting the Chicago Bulls, appear to still be figuring themselves out. With a new coaching staff led by Ime Udoka and some new faces across the roster, including Dennis Schroder and Josh Richardson, some patience is needed for Boston to hit their stride. Expect them to turn it on as the season goes on, especially once their two superstars, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, get more comfortable with the supporting cast.