Timberwolves fall to Magic 97-96 on Anthony’s buzzer-beater
MINNEAPOLIS — Cole Anthony hit a hurried 3-pointer at the buzzer and the Orlando Magic stunned the Minnesota Timberwolves 97-96 on Wednesday night to stop a six-game losing streak.
Nikola Vucevic had 28 points and eight rebounds for Orlando. Evan Fournier added 24 points in his return to the lineup after missing nine games with lower back spasms.
Minnesota led by 20 before the Magic slowly chipped away in the second half.
Jarred Vanderbilt missed a pair of free throws with a chance to ice the game for the Timberwolves. Anthony grabbed the rebound on the final miss, pushed the ball quickly up court and the rookie drained a contested 3 from the right wing to win the game.
“I’m like, ‘Alright, I probably won’t be able to get to the rim, but I can shoot this 3,’” Anthony said. “It felt good. I didn’t really see the shot after I shot it. I seen it go through the net and that was about it.”
D’Angelo Russell scored 19 points and Michael Beasley added 13 for the short-handed Timberwolves, who were without Karl-Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio and Juancho Hernangomez as part of the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Russell keyed a 24-1 run in the second quarter for Minnesota to take control before Orlando closed late.
“I feel like we gave the game away,” Wolves rookie Anthony Edwards said. “We had the game. I can’t say we had it, but we had control of the game the whole fourth quarter.”
Two of the league’s most inefficient offenses looked the part during a sluggish first quarter. Vucevic scored 12 points while Minnesota shot 35% and Orlando led 25-21.
Starting the day, the Timberwolves were 26th in the league in offensive rating and the Magic were 28th.
Russell started the Wolves’ push early in the second, hitting three 3-pointers during a 16-0 run.
Orlando went scoreless for nearly five minutes and managed just 10 points in the quarter, shooting 3 of 23 from the field.
The Magic twice closed within two in the final 1:24 on 3s by Aaron Gordon and Anthony, but Gordon missed a wide-open 3 with 7.2 seconds left before Vanderbilt’s misses at the line.
“The big thing is, in the second half, we played better,” Orlando coach Steve Clifford said. “We held them to 19 in the fourth. Our defense was very good and we gave ourselves a chance to hang around in the game on the road and then, obviously, he made an incredible shot there at the end.”
Magic: Clifford said Al-Farouq Aminu (right knee surgery) is practicing in non-contact drills, but his return isn’t imminent. Clifford also said Michael Carter-Williams (sprained left foot) is closer to returning but didn’t add a timeline. … Vucevic scored 11 points and Fournier had 10 in the third as Orlando made its run.
Timberwolves: Towns, who announced on social media he tested positive for COVID-19, has played in just four of the team’s 13 games this season. … Minnesota set a season high with 12 blocks, led by Naz Reid and rookie Jaden McDaniels with three apiece. … The 10 points in the second were the fewest allowed by the Wolves in a quarter this season. … McDaniels, the 28th overall draft pick out of Washington, set career highs with 12 points and eight rebounds.
MORE THAN THE SHOT
Anthony scored 13 points and matched a season high with seven rebounds. Including another late 3, Clifford was impressed by the 15th overall pick in last year’s draft out of North Carolina.
“I thought tonight, before watching the film, that I thought he played a much more complete game tonight also besides his shot,” Clifford said. “Again, he’ll get better. He has the right attitude. He’s learning the NBA and he’s making good progress.”
FULTZ HAS SURGERY
Orlando announced that point guard Markelle Fultz had surgery on the torn ACL in his left knee. The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Fultz will miss the rest of the season.
Magic: Continue their longest road trip of the season Friday at Indiana. The Pacers lost at home to Dallas on Wednesday.
Timberwolves: Host the Atlanta Hawks on Friday after losing 108-97 in Atlanta on Monday.