ORLANDO, Fla. — In a season-long search for success, the Orlando Magic found a few things to celebrate in their victory over the short-handed Minnesota Timberwolves.
Arron Afflalo broke out of a six-game shooting slump and Kyle O’Quinn rebounded from a dreadful game the night before to help the Magic rally from a 13-point second-half deficit and defeat the Timberwolves 100-92 Saturday night.
Afflalo, who hadn’t scored in double figures his last three games and was 14 of 47 (29 per cent) from the field in his last five, hit 8 of 15 from the field and scored 18 points against Minnesota, which played without injured starters Kevin Love, Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic and lost replacement starter Chase Budinger in the first minute of the game with an ankle injury.
O’Quinn, who was just 5 of 20 and got exploited by Al Jefferson in a loss to Charlotte Friday night, came back with 14 points and 13 rebounds against the Timberwolves.
Tobias Harris and Maurice Harkless added 17 points apiece for the Magic. Rookie Victor Oladipo contributed 16 points and six assists, plus good defence in the fourth quarter against Timberwolves playmaker Ricky Rubio to help Orlando end a three-game losing streak.
Orlando shot 60.5 per cent in the second half and pounded the Timberwolves on the boards, 40-30.
“There were a lot of good story lines from this game,” Magic coach Jacque Vaughn said. “We got a lot of contributions all across the board. We had 29 assists, hit the open guy and trusted the consequences of whatever came from it.”
O’Quinn’s performance was important because the Magic had their own injury problem with starting centre Nikola Vucevic missing a second straight game with a sore Achilles tendon. His replacement, Dewayne Dedmon, scored on his first shot of the game, but didn’t make another shot and played only 14 minutes.
That put the onus on O’Quinn to control the inside and he responded with one of the best games of his career.
“Last night was a rough night for me,” O’Quinn said. “There were points where I could have made a shot and turned things around, but we lost so I had to bounce back. You have to have a short memory, but we stuck together and got the result we wanted.”
Minnesota got 18 points and 10 assists from Rubio, but he couldn’t find many familiar faces in the lineup with him when the game went down to the final four minutes with the Timberwolves trying to hold on to an 89-88 lead.
Reserves were filling the roles usually played by Love, Martin and Pekovic. The result was an 0-for-6 stretch that allowed Orlando to go on a 10-1 run and put the game away.
“We’re playing combinations that haven’t played before and you get to the fourth quarter and things really start affecting you,” Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. “Guys played hard, but we just couldn’t finish it.”
Dante Cunningham, who missed one game after being arrested for domestic assault, rejoined the Timberwolves and scored 12 points.
“When you play with guys like Kevin Love or Kevin Martin, you know where they like to play,” Rubio said. “When you’re playing with new guys, you have to figure it out. We just ran out of energy. We have to fight through it.”
The Magic rallied from 12 points down with five minutes to go in the third quarter.
The combination of sloppy ball handling by the Magic and Rubio having his way against a porous Magic defence allowed the Timberwolves to push a 48-46 halftime lead up to 13 points in the third quarter.
When Rubio went to the bench, Minnesota’s offensive rhythm went with him.
Oladipo and Harris took advantage, helping the Magic close the gap to 77-72 by the end of the third quarter and open the final period with an 8-2 run. A steal and jam by Harris gave Orlando an 80-79 advantage with 8:38 left.
Minnesota reclaimed the lead with another drive through the lane by Rubio giving the Timberwolves an 89-88 lead with 4:26 left in the game.
Oladipo drilled another 3 to start Orlando on the clinching 10-1 run.
NOTES: Timberwolves starters F Kevin Love (back spasms), C Nikola Pekovic (ankle) and SG Kevin Martin (foot) sat out as did backup F Shabazz Muhammad (knee). . Magic C Nikola Vucevic (sore Achilles) missed his 20th game this season because of injury. Dewayne Dedmon got the first start of his career as Vucevic’s replacement. . Minnesota is 17-13 against the East this season. . Orlando improved to 6-28 in back-to-back games this season. Five of the six wins came in the second game. . Minnesota has lost six straight at Orlando.