ORLANDO, FL – The Orlando Magic began a six game homestand Friday night by beating the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-110. The T-wolves were in the midst of a 6 game winning streak, having improved since adding veteran guard Patrick Beverly to their roster before the NBA trade deadline.
Orlando is nothing to sneeze at, having become one of the most improved defenses in the NBA since the NBA All-Star break. But with the NBA’s worst record, the Magic still have a lot to learn in their 2021-22 season “process”.
The game opened up with a shooting pace by Minnesota, showing why they were on that streak. The T’Wolves are the seventh best shooting team in the league, outscoring the Magic 36-24 in the first half. Beverly was hot form deep, hitting 3 3-point shots and leading the team with 9 points early.
Beverly collided with Mo Bamba as the Center came down after snatching a rebound. Beverly slid under Bamba and Mo’s body came down on Beverly’s head. He went to the floor, holding his head in pain as he was called for the loose ball foul, his third, early in the first quarter. Beverly was subbed out for Malik Beasley and never returned to the game.
Orlando seemed to get heroics from everywhere. After the slack first quarter, where Minnesota could pretty much take their pick of 3-point shots, Orlando turned the tide as the game progressed.
“We just saw that they were taking their shots from deep, so we went with the strategy of taking those away and making their big men beat us.” Said Guard Markelle Fultz. “that’s when things changed.”
Orlando lead each of the next three quarters. Minnesota’s game high 3-point percentage of near 60% in the first quarter was whittled down to 33% by the end of the game. they went from shooting 7-12 in the first half to 15 of 45 at the end of the game.
Karl-Anthony Townes managed to grind out 21 points for the T-wolves, with 13 rebounds, and forward Anthony Edwards scored 25 points in the game.
For Orlando, the emergence of the new Mo Bamba (27 points, 12 rebounds) and Wendell Carter Jr (20 points 10 rebounds) lead the Magic in scoring.
Markell Fultz continues to be a wonder for the Magic. his speed is causing chaos in opposing defending defenses, as he drives into the interior, causing defenders to collapse, opening up passing lanes to open Magic players.
The Timberwolves managed to lose an 18-point lead that they held over the Magic, who managed to tie the score in the third quarter. Orlando pulled ahead late in the third and help a lead of as much as 12 points in the fourth quarter.
The veteran Timberwolves dung into that Magic lead lead and managed to bring it down to a 1 point lead late in the fourth, but Orlando fought their was out of it with key shots by Mo Wagner and Cole Anthony.
Fultz managed to score a respectable 14 points , including his first 3-point shot of the year and dished out 7 assists.
Cole Anthony scored 15 points and grabbed 6 rebounds, and Mo Wagner dropped in18 points in his 13 minutes on the court.
Ir was a perfect setup for a T-wolves comebacks, like we’ve seen so many times at the Amway Center. But Friday was different. On Friday, the growth of the Orlando Magic “Process” showed up.
The Magic face Joel Embid, James Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday at 6pm.