The young and exciting Minnesota Timberwolves have become darlings of the NBA over the season's first few weeks, making budding stars of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns and playing with a passion that makes them very fun to watch. Wednesday's visit to the Orlando Magic did nothing to change that image, but it did end with a rare road loss for Minnesota.
With the teams tied up at 108-108 and 22 seconds remaining in overtime, Magic forward Jason Smith forced a jump ball with Wolves guard Zach LaVine on the rebound off an Elfrid Payton miss. Although the 6-5 LaVine's jumping ability would seem to make up for much of the players' seven-inch height difference, Smith won the tip and gave Orlando a chance to win.
Evan Fournier took advantage of that second chance with the game-winning three-pointer:
LaVine could only manage a badly missed off-balance prayer at the buzzer to finalize the Magic's 104-101 win. Orlando had lost their two previous overtime games this season and now sits at 6-6.
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The loss was a tough one for Minnesota, which held a 52-38 halftime lead before being seriously outplayed by Orlando in the second half. Nevertheless, the Wolves made two excellent plays in the final seconds to force overtime. Down seven points with 3:35 remaining in regulation, the visitors played well over the final minutes and tied the game at 93-93 on this Wiggins jumper with two seconds on the clock:
The Magic had one more chance to win in regulation, but Towns ensured the game would go to the extra period with this block on Tobias Harris near the rim:
Yet Minnesota had no answer for Orlando guards Fournier and Elfrid Payton in overtime. The duo scored all 11 Magic points in the extra period and combined for 50 points overall (20-of-40 FG, including 5-of-7 from deep for Fournier) on a night when the team shot just 37.3 percent from the field. Payton added seven rbeounds, six assists, four steals, and only one turnover as part of a typically solid all-around game.
The Wolves were a mixed bag in running their road record to 5-2. Ricky Rubio shot poorly to fall two points shy of a tripled-double (12 rebounds and 12 assists), but Wiggins (28 points on 12-of-14 FT) and Towns (21 points and 12 boards) helped pick up the slack. A 4-of-18 night from the perimeter did not help their chances.
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