Timberwolves Wrap: Two streaks broken in easy victory over Magic

An eight-game losing streak in Orlando and a three-game losing streak on the season were snapped in style as the Timberwolves defeated the Magic with ease.

MinnesotaTimberwolves

123

OrlandoMagic

107

First Half

The Timberwolves started off strong and quickly gained a 13-4 lead on a fast-break ending in a layup by Kris Dunn.

As time went on, Minnesota built a 22-point margin at the end of first quarter, 39-17. The Wolves were lead by Zach LaVine and Andrew Wiggins, who combined for 24 points and 4-5 shooting from three.

For the majority of a high-scoring second quarter, the difference between the teams remained more or less stable. Magic tried to make several small runs, but none of them significantly changed the margin. In the second part of the period, the Wolves managed to add several points to their already substantial lead, touching 30 points for a brief time. The teams went into the halftime with Minnesota ahead 74:47.

The Wolves managed to make nine of their first 13 shots from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, the Magic hit on their very last possession of the second quarter after having missed their previous six attempts.

Additionally, Shabazz Muhammad and Tyus Jones contributed significantly and the Wolves’ bench even managed to outscore the Magic’s reserves by a 14-12 margin.

Second Half

If there is one consistent thing about the Wolves as a team it is their horrid starts of the third quarters through the season’s first six games.

This time, the Magic, led by Nikola Vucevic, outscored the visitors 18-6 in the first few minutes after halftime. However, two threes by LaVine and several nice plays from Wiggins ensured that the Wolves managed to retain a solid lead after third.

Minnesota lost the third quarter once again, although this time it wasn’t as devastating, as the 27-point halftime margin stayed afloat at 20 points heading to the final frame.

In the start of the final period Wolves initially increased their lead to 24, when the Magic began their last push. Orlando went on a 19-6 run, snapping the Wolves’ lead to 11 with five minutes to play.

However, that was the closest they got. Yet another clutch three by LaVine ultimately sealed the game and the last few minutes was just a formality. The Timberwolves won the game by the final score of 123-107.

Takeaways

Positives

Retaining the lead & closing the game out.

The Timberwolves have usually managed to play well in the first half and build leads this season, and that was not a problem once again on this night — the problem was holding on to those leads. Droughts in the second half, particularly the third quarter, have already taken away several wins from Minnesota. But not this time.

Led by LaVine, the Wolves successfully retained what they had built in the first half and never let the Magic cut the lead to single digits.

Contribution from role-players.

The Wolves’ bench was once again outscored by their opponents, however, this time the Lavine,-Wiggins-Towns trio got substantial help. Gorgui Deng, Jones & Muhammad all scored in double-digits and all also had +/- ratings in positive double-digits. That’s the kind of play the Timberwolves need in the future, because it makes Minnesota a much harder team to stop.

Negative.

Kris Dunn. Tyus Jones stepped up today, but the (current) starting point guard’s performance was somewhat disappointing. He was the only starter with a negative +/- rating. As all the other starters scored in double-digits, Dunn didn’t even managed to reach that margin with his points, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals all added up.

At times, the team seemed a bit lost with him on the floor and if it wasn’t for LaVine’s heroics or a decent performance from Jones, the match may not have ended in such an easy victory. All Wolves fans are patient waiting for Ricky Rubio to come back, but until then Dunn has to step up and improve his game significantly.

Overall, this was a good win, which should ignite the Wolves to strive for the first winning-streak this season. This will not be easy, of course, as Minnesota will be facing one of the Western Conference’s top teams in Los Angeles Clippers, but home court, fans and some positive energy from this last game may just be the inspiration they need to pull it off.

Star of the Night

Zach LaVine: 37 points (14-22 FG, 7-9 3P, 2-3 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, a steal, zero turnovers, 36 minutes

Although LaVine played pretty consistently in the first six games, he didn’t erupt like that before. The night in Orlando marked LaVine’s career-high tying performance with 37 points, and not only that: seven made threes is the best result in Zach’s NBA-career.

Many of them came in crucial points of the game, too, when Magic were on runs and closing up. LaVine’s TNT-like explosion from downtown was the major factor, which didn’t let Orlando near enough for them to even think about the victory.

Stat of the Night

The Wolves shot 56.5 percent from three-point territory, making 13 out of 23 shots (seven of them by LaVine), while Magic connected on eight of their attempts. However, their three-point shooting percentage was merely 33.3, which was one of the major differences between the teams that helped Minnesota get the win.

Notable Timberwolves Lines

  • Zach LaVine: 37 points (14-22 FG, 2-3 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 0 turnovers
  • Andrew Wiggins: 29 points (10-18 FG, 2-4 3P, 7-9 FT), 6 assists, 4 rebounds
  • Karl-Anthony Towns: 20 points (7-16 FG, 1-3 3P, 5-5 FT), 11 rebounds
  • Shabazz Muhammad: 13 points (4-6 FG, 1-1 3P, 4-7 FT)
  • Gorgui Dieng: 12 points (6-9 FG), 11 rebounds
  • Tyus Jones: 10 points (3-9 FG, 2-4 3P, 2-2 FT), 5 assists, 4 rebounds

Who’s Next?

The game in Orlando ended Minnesota’s three game road trip. Now the Wolves will host their next four opponents at the Target Center. The first game of this homestand will take place on Saturday, with Timberwolves facing the Los Angeles Clippers. Clippers started the season very well, having won 6 of 7 games. Before coming to Minnesota they will first play the Blazers at home tonight and then face the Thunder – only team to have beaten them so far – in Oklahoma.

If there’s something that can give some essential confidence for the Wolves, it’s a win against a top team in the conference. If Minnesota can manage to snap a win here, it could very likely result in a nice and reassuring winning streak after a rough start.

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