ORLANDO, Fla. (AP)—Although the Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t going to the playoffs, their latest win had a postseason feel.
“It’s just motivation for us to compete through the end,” Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said. “We’ve kind of set up little goals for ourselves; our little playoff thing.
“Sometimes it’s hard playing these last three or four games knowing you don’t have anything at the end.”
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy was anything but jovial after his team for the sixth time in 10 games and failed to get its 50th win of the season.
“I thought we had made some strides in the Chicago game but evidently not,” said Van Gundy, referring to Orlando’s 115-83 win on April 9. “Their guards destroyed us. That’s troubling with the guards we’re going to play in the first round of the playoffs.”
Following Gomes’ free throws, Orlando took a 20-second timeout and called on Hedo Turkoglu for the game-winning attempt but his 3-point shot missed the entire goal.
Van Gundy said Turkoglu appeared to rush, adding “He shot it like a fade-away airball. I didn’t like it.”
Said Turkoglu: “I knew it was bad at the time but I tried to get a little space and tried to take the best shot and it was kind of a bad shot.”
Turkoglu scored 23 points to lead the Magic, who were just 8-for-21 from the field in the fourth quarter. Dwight Howard had 20 points and 14 rebounds for his 68th double-double of the season, tying Shaquille O’Neal’s franchise record set in 1992-93, and Rashard Lewis added 18.
Lewis’ basket put the Magic ahead 99-90 with 4:23 remaining but Minnesota then closed the game with a 12-2 run.
With Orlando leading 101-100 with 1:17 to go, the Magic failed to score on their next two possessions and Minnesota misfired on four attempts. Al Jefferson missed a tipped rebound at 3.9 but Howard fouled Gomes chasing the rebound with 2.9 remaining.
Gomes’ free throws gave Minnesota its first lead of the game and Orlando one final shot at the win. The Magic were trying to reach the 50-win mark for the first time since the 1995-96 season.
Orlando relied on solid 3-point shooting in the first half, hitting nine of 13 to take a 63-54 halftime lead. Turkoglu was 5-for-7 from the field and led all scorers with 14 points as Orlando shot 68.6 percent.
“There’s some troubling things that I don’t like at all,” Van Gundy said. “But I would say that myself and my assistant coaches are the only ones concerned. I don’t think our players are real concerned about it.”
Turkoglu topped 20 points for the 41st time this season. … Minnesota outrebounded Orlando, 46-37. … Orlando shot a season-best 77.8 percent (14-of-18) from the field in the first quarter. … Orlando made 12 three-pointers, making it the 79th consecutive game the team has recorded at least five three-pointers in a game, the longest such streak in the NBA. … It was Minnesota’s sixth road win of the season.