Orlando Magic Grades: Orlando Magic 122, Minnesota Timberwolves 112

The Orlando Magic have decisions to make at every spot with lots of versatility on the roster. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic have decisions to make at every spot with lots of versatility on the roster. (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic felt the ease of pressure releasing after the trade deadline and put on a spirited performance to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves.

86. 122. 38. Final. 112

The weight of the trade deadline was off the Orlando Magic.

The team had made their big move to acquire Markelle Fultz earlier in the day — it was not officially announced until midway through the second quarter. But the team facing many decisions had apparently largely decided that this would be the group it would ride with as they try to break a six-year Playoff drought.

As Evan Fournier said a few weeks back, they know this is it for them. They need some tangible success to justify their continued presence with the team. And maybe a lot of those big decisions for the Magic are still to be determined and still up for grabs.

But those are concerns for July. This is about the now. This is about the team finding a way to scratch out wins and make good on those Playoff hopes and dreams.

In an 122-112 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Amway Center on Thursday, the Orlando Magic played with the kind of competitive spirit and freedom they know they can when they are at their best. They were playing like that weight was lifted off the shoulders.

This is their team and this is their opportunity.

It was not a perfect performance by any means. The Magic’s defense left a lot to be desired. Even good defensive possessions gave way to offensive rebounds and the Magic were sometimes sloppy.

That was not enough to overcome an offensive effort that was perhaps the Magic’s best of the entire season. They shot 54.2 percent and scored a season-high 71 points in the first half (shooting 65.2 percent in the first half). Their 122 points were the third most they have scored this season — tying their last effort against the Oklahoma City Thunder from Tuesday.

Orlando did a good job attacking the paint off the dribble, creating passing lanes to hit 3-pointers (11 for 25) or finish at the rim. The Magic had 46 points in the paint and 23 assists on 45 field goals. There was not a lot of resistance coming from Minnesota as Orlando put them on the back foot and kept attacking and attacking.

That was the exact mindset the team needed. With an active and energetic — if not sometimes imprecise — defense, that was enough to get the job done.

Coach <a href=. G/F. Orlando Magic. TERRENCE ROSS. A+

B+. Evan Fournier is cautiously coming out of his slump. Cautiously. The Orlando Magic are getting him shots in better spots now and working him off the ball much more successfully. He is not trying to force offense much more now. And that is a good thing for the Magic. Ball movement is the key to any part of their success.<p>Fournier finished with 18 points on 8 for 13 shooting. He did a good job attacking closeouts and getting into the mid-range and lane for easy shots.</p><p>He did not make too many mistakes, especially in the first half. He did slow down some by the second half. But it was an encouraging game from Fournier overall.</p>. G/F. Orlando Magic. EVAN FOURNIER

Orlando Magic. NIKOLA VUCEVIC. B. <a href=. C

B+. <a href=. F. Orlando Magic. AARON GORDON

C. The Minnesota Timberwolves can score. And the Orlando Magic had a problem covering Andrew Wiggins (23 points, nine rebounds) and <a rel=. 25-29. 12th West. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

Orlando Magic know Terrence Ross' value. dark. Next

The Orlando Magic next play Saturday against the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum. They are 3.5 games behind the Miami Heat for the final spot in the Playoffs.