AP Photo/Jim Mone
With injuries to Jameer Nelson (strained groin and hamstring) and Hedo Turkoglu (broken hand), as well as Al Harrington still recovering from surgery on his right knee during the offseason, playing shorthanded was eventually going to catch up to the Orlando Magic.
Without Harrington, Nelson, and Turkoglu, the Magic handily defeated the Phoenix Suns three days ago and lost a close game to the Chicago Bulls yesterday, but the bottom dropped out for Orlando against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a sloppy game (both teams combined for 38 turnovers), this was a classic case where the more talented team won.
The Magic were able to keep pace with the Timberwolves leading up to halftime, thanks in large part due to a combination of good defense from Orlando and bad offense from Minnesota.
For most of the first half, the game was a bit of a slog — especially for the Magic, who were playing on the second game of a back-to-back. A high amount of fouls and turnovers interrupted the flow of the game. But Orlando was able to hang in there, trailing 38-34 at halftime despite shooting 31.6 percent from the field. No one on the Magic, aside from Arron Afflalo, could get anything going offensively. Afflalo scored 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting from the floor in the first half, while the rest of his teammates combined to shoot 7-for-31. J.J. Redick, in particular, struggled on offense, missing all six of his field goal attempts despite getting a number of clean looks on the perimeter.
In the second half, a series of runs turned this game into a rout as the Timberwolves’ offense came alive.
Sparked by Luke Ridnour and Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota went on a 15-4 run early in the third quarter that opened up a double-digit lead. Orlando was able to briefly counter with a run of their own midway through the period, cutting the deficit to five points. But the Timberwolves, thanks mostly to Greg Stiemsma’s barrage of buckets, were able to blow the game wide open with a 28-6 run that spanned from the end of the third quarter until midway through the fourth quarter.
By the time Jacque Vaughn took a 20-second timeout with 6:28 remaining in the game, the Magic were trailing by 27 points while Minnesota was purifying themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Ridnour was one of the main reasons why the Timberwolves were able to pull away from Orlando after a tightly-contested first half. For the game, Ridnour finished with 19 points (6-for-9 shooting from the floor) and five rebounds.
Trailing 62-55, the Magic were in striking distance with the third quarter winding down. However, Stiemsma scored the next eight points in the span of roughly one minute that opened up a double-digit lead Minnesota would never relinquish.