Magic hold off late charge from Wolves for 4th straight win
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Nikola Vucevic had 18 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, and the Orlando Magic won their fourth straight game with a 96-93 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Elfrid Payton had 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists and Andrew Nicholson scored 15 for the Magic (10-8), who have won four straight for the first time since December 2012.
Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points for the Timberwolves (8-10), but missed a free throw with 5.6 seconds to play that would have tied the game. Minnesota shot just 37.7 percent and fell to 2-7 at home this season.
The Magic led by as many as 17 in the third quarter. Minnesota had it tied with 4:30 to play, but went 3:40 without a bucket late in the fourth.
The Magic won their previous three games by spreading the ball around on offense and clamping down defensively with tenacity on the perimeter and strength in the paint. All that was on display in the first half Tuesday night, when they jumped on a Timberwolves team that has not played with the same energy at home that it has on the road.
The Wolves missed 12 of their first 14 shots, and Evan Fournier and Vucevic pushed Orlando out to a 12-4 lead. Minnesota shot just 24 percent in the first quarter and turned the ball over nine times in the first half to fall behind by as many as 15 points.
Kevin Martin, who came into the game shooting a ghastly 24 percent over the previous eight, finally got going with 13 points in the third quarter to make things interesting.
A 24-10 run by the Wolves bench helped them surge back into the game, and Wiggins scored on a putback to tie it at 87 with 4:30 to play.
But Victor Oladipo blew by Zach LaVine for a dunk and hit a 3-pointer from the left wing, and Payton scored on a tough drive to the basket with 35 seconds to go to help secure a series sweep for Orlando.
Oladipo finished with 13 points.
Magic: Tobias Harris had 13 points. … Orlando has won 13 of the last 15 against Minnesota. … Orlando is 4-4 in games decided by five points or fewer.
Timberwolves: No. 1 overall draft pick Karl-Anthony Towns had just six points on 2-for-11 shooting and once again did not play in the fourth quarter. … Ricky Rubio came back from a two-game absence because of a sore left ankle. He had three points on 0-for-5 shooting and five assists in 27 minutes. … Gorgui Dieng had 11 points and seven rebounds. … Kevin Garnett had four points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes, surpassing Jason Kidd (50,110) for third on the NBA's career minutes list.
Magic: At Utah on Thursday.
Timberwolves: Host Portland on Saturday.