The Magic, on a high after four straight wins, visit the Timberwolves, a club with a frustrated superstar and nine losses in 12 games.
In 11th place in the Eastern Conference and trailing Philadelphia by five games for the final playoff spot, the Magic are a long shot to reach the postseason. But the Orlando players show no lack of confidence.
“We didn’t have a realistic shot a few weeks ago,” Hedo Turkoglu said Tuesday night after scoring 15 points in a 97-93 victory over Chicago. “But if you look at it now, we’re a few games behind.”
The Magic had to rally from 11 points down in the fourth quarter, holding the Bulls to 3-for-21 shooting in that span. Jameer Nelson scored 24 points to lead Orlando, his eighth straight game in double figures.
A victory over Minnesota would match Orlando’s season-high five-game winning streak, set from Jan. 18-26.
After facing the Timberwolves, the Magic play seven of their final 10 games at home, where they have recorded 20 wins this season.
Meanwhile, former league MVP Kevin Garnett is disgruntled as his Timberwolves will likely miss the playoffs for the second straight season.
“I’ve always said I’ll be in Minnesota as long as they want me,” Garnett said after scoring 26 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in the Wolves’ 98-94 victory over New York on Sunday. “I don’t think I can take another one of these rebuilding stages.”
Minnesota trails eighth-place Sacramento by 5 1/2 games in the Western Conference with 12 games left. In Sunday’s game, the Timberwolves led by as many as 25 points but had to hold on to defeat the team with the league’s worst record.
Despite the rough season, Minnesota coach Dwane Casey appears more optimistic than Garnett.
“We’re not in such dire straits as everyone thinks,” Casey said. “We’re probably in the rebuilding process, whatever, but I think we’re a couple pieces away, or not that far away from getting to where we want to be. … But it’s a process.”
The Wolves have played well at home recently, with six wins in their last seven games at the Target Center. Minnesota also has won four of its last five home meetings with the Magic.