Magic 108, Timberwolves 99
Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said before the game against Minnesota that he's never seen a player with the combination of 3-point shooting and rebounding prowess that Kevin Love has in his game.
For one night at least, there was a guy on his own team that looked pretty darn close.
Ryan Anderson had 15 points and 11 rebounds and Jason Richardson scored 21 points to lift the Magic to a 108-99 victory over the Timberwolves on Saturday night.
''They play the same way quite honestly,'' Van Gundy said of Love and Anderson. ''It spreads the floor out for other guys, he pulls guys away from the basket. Kevin Love doesn't want to guard a guy out there either. I don't mean he's not trying, but it's not a comfortable place for big guys to go out and guard.''
Dwight Howard had 16 points and nine rebounds and J.J. Redick scored 21 for the Magic, who ended a two-game skid and have now won 10 of their last 12.
Corey Brewer had 23 points and five steals and Love had 11 points and 15 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who committed 12 turnovers in the second half to give away a 15-point lead.
The Magic (26-14) are 10-4 since a blockbuster trade last month that brought Hedo Turkoglu, Gilbert Arenas and Richardson to Orlando and have leapfrogged Atlanta for second place in the Southeast Division.
Love had six rebounds in the first four minutes, an incredible start that helped Minnesota take a 15-point lead late in the first period. That prompted Van Gundy to insert Anderson the floor-spreader at power forward to draw Love away from the basket.
He hit three 3-pointers and scored 11 points during a 22-9 run that got Orlando back in the game and helped limit the NBA's leading rebounder to nine boards over the final 44 minutes and two on the offensive glass for the game.
The former Cal Golden Bear played against the former UCLA Bruin Love in college, so he had a plan.
''One thing I remember and think about when I go up against Kevin Love is to not let him wedge me under so he can get his offensive rebounds,'' Anderson said. ''He's pretty hard to completely stop from doing that, but we as a team did a pretty good job of keeping him off of the offensive glass, especially.''
Luke Ridnour had 19 points and six assists for the Wolves, who were without Michael Beasley for the second straight game because of a sprained left ankle.
The Magic shot just 39 percent in the first half, but Richardson scored 13 points and hit three of Orlando's five 3s in the third period to take control.
The Timberwolves committed only six turnovers in the first half, but dumped the ball a staggering nine times in the third quarter.
A team that has won just 10 games this season will look for positivity anywhere it can find it, and Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis did just that after the game. The Magic beat the Wolves by 42 points in November, so this nine-point loss was another sign of progress, in the coach's eyes.
''You can see this team has dramatically improved,'' Rambis said.
Love and Howard are first and second on the rebounding list, and they couldn't be more different in their approaches to dominating the glass.
Howard is the chiseled freak of nature, with bowling balls for shoulders and trampolines for calf muscles. The former slam dunk champion takes over games with unbridled athleticism and sheer power that is simply too much for most in the league to handle.
That includes both Wolves centers. Darko Milicic and Nikola Pekovic both fouled out in a combined 38 minutes.
''They have a couple of MMA fighters,'' Howard said. ''We only have one MMA fighter and that's me.''
Love, meanwhile, has a doughy physique and the same vertical leap as the janitor who plays in your weekend pickup game. But his anticipation, positioning and relentlessness is without peer. He leads the NBA with 36 double-doubles and has six 20-20 games this year. Howard led the NBA in that category last year - with three.
Love finally got his double-double on a tip-in with 7:10 to play, but he had to work harder than he has all season to get there. Ridnour followed with a 3-pointer to cut Orlando's lead to six points, but Redick came right back with a four-point play to keep the Wolves at bay.
''I had a very rough game offensively,'' Love said. ''I just didn't have my legs tonight.''
Notes: The lights went out in the arena at the start of the fourth quarter, causing a brief stoppage. ... Beasley is considered day-to-day with his ankle. He could make his return when the Wolves play at Portland on Monday. ... Milicic finished with 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks.