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Magic Struggle, Still Take Down T-Wolves


The Magic wanted to get off to a better start and on Friday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves, they did. The Magic took a quick 8-0 lead after a three-pointer by Rashard Lewis and five straight points by Jameer Nelson.

After that, Orlando’s defense let up and the Wolves were able to take the lead. That lead didn’t last long. After leading 35-30 in the second quarter, the Magic quickly answered with a 16-3 run. Orlando ended the half with a 51-45 lead.

The Magic quickly gave the lead back. It took Minnesota less than four minutes to take a 56-55 lead. The two teams traded baskets for most of the third quarter.

Early in the final quarter, Wayne Ellington’s three-pointer gave the T-Wolves a 77-75 lead. Orlando answered by going on 14-4 run that included four three-pointers made. Ryan Anderson hit three of the four. It was all Magic the rest of the way as they closed the game out and left the Target Center with a 106-94 victory.

The hero of the night? There are several candidates. Rashard Lewis deserves some consideration. He had a team-high 21 points on a very efficient 7-of-12 from the field. Lewis also made five three-pointers and hit several timely shots. You had to like what you saw from Lewis since his attempts have been down and although he tries not to show it, he seems a little frustrated.

Other candidates? Matt Barnes was excellent. Jameer Nelson bounced back. And Dwight Howard has his usual rebound and block numbers.

But, the real hero is Ryan Anderson. Sure he was just 4-of-12 from the field and 4-of-10 from beyond the three-point line, but Anderson made several clutch shots. With the Magic trailed 77-75, Anderson hit three three-pointers on four possessions (with a Jason Williams three-pointer in between. After Anderson’s last three-pointer, Dwight Howard hit a shot that gave the Magic an 89-81 lead and virtually sealed the victory. Anderson also had four steals.

Just a game after seemingly breaking out of his slump, Vince Carter shot 3-of-10 from the field and 1-of-4 from beyond the arc. Carter took just 10 shots (he averages 16.2 shot attempts per game). Cater found other ways to get it done. He finished the game with six assists and assisted on the last three baskets during Orlando’s 14-4 fourth quarter run. I expected Carter to get the hoop more and was disappointed that he didn’t drive more against Minnesota throughout the entire game. When he finally did, Orlando’s shooters got easy looks.

Matt Barnes was excellent. He had 17 points and 11 rebounds. Barnes was 6-of-10 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free throw line. I like the fact that Barnes has made an attempt to get to the basket. He was 5-of-6 on field goals attempted at the rim.

The Magic badly want to establish Dwight Howard in the paint but they were not able to against the Timberwolves. He had just two looks at the rim and hit both, but was just 4-of-10 from the field and got to the free throw just once, making one of two. Howard again picked up two first quarter fouls, but he still managed to grab 15 rebounds and block three shots.

Jameer Nelson had a promising stat line. Like Carter, I would like to see Nelson slash through the lane a little more often, but Nelson did his job as a Point Guard tonight. He was 6-of-11 from the field, 2-of-3 from downtown and 2-of-2 from the free throw line. Not only did Nelson score 16 points but he grabbed three rebounds and did an excellent job as a distributor, dishing out six assists and turning it over just once.


The Magic had some trouble with Minnesota’s big men. Al Jefferson and Kevin Love scored 31 points and grabbed 20 rebounds. Minnesota won the battle of the boards, in large part thanks to their starting front court, but they had six players grab at least four rebounds. Orlando has to do a better job on the glass.

The Magic could have played better defensively. Minnesota shot just 43.0% from the field but, as expected, they struggled to defend rookie Point Guard Jonny Flynn, but not in the way I expected. Flynn, who came into the game shooting just 33.3% from down, hit five of seven three-point attempts. He finished the game with 23 points.

Orlando turned it over just 11 times and a turnover percentage of 11.7%. They also forced the Timberwolves into 19 turnovers.

The Magic were very effective from the free throw line, hitting 19 of their 23 attempts. The Magic also won the battle from beyond the arc. The Wolves were effective, hitting eight of their 18 attempts, but the Magic sunk 15 three-pointers.

Game Notes:

  • Wayne Ellington was very effective off of the bench. He had 13 points on 5-of-6 shooting.
  • Orlando’s bench was quiet. Outside of Anderson, Jason Williams and Mickael Pietrus, no one scored. To be fair, J.J. Redick, Brandon Bass, and Marcin Gortat played a combined 23 minutes.
  • Ryan Anderson finished +17 on Friday night.

Next Up: The Magic head to Chicago to take on the Bulls on Saturday night.

Final Thought: The Magic struggled but still found a way to get the job done.

(Andrew Melnick is Howard the Dunk’s lead blogger and a contributor at NFL Mocks Subscribe to his RSS feed and add him on Twitter to follow him daily.)