[Orlando, FL] As of late, the Orlando Magic (17-11) have been playing Love-ly, haven’t they? Winning 5 of their first 7 games in February, we have even seen the likes of Jason Richardson and Ryan Anderson step up and take the leadership role more consistently than we are used to seeing.
“We’re dangerous in a lot different ways. We have a lot of guys that are on the team that can score the ball, put up the numbers,” Richardson said after being asked about the team’s recent play.
Welcoming the Minnesota Timberwolves (13-15) to town tonight, the Magic get their first look of the season at “The Love Guru” himself, Kevin Love. Putting up close-to-MVP type numbers (25.6 ppg and 13.9 rebs), Love has already lead his team to victory 13 times in their first 28 games.
That’s only 4 wins shy of last season’s win total already, and we still haven’t hit the All-Star break yet! And if they stay on this pace, they will win 31 games this year, only one win shy of their total number of wins for the past two seasons combined (not to mention this is only a 66-game season).
The young Wolves’ future is looking a little brighter than in season’s past, especially with the emergence of rookie point guard Ricky Rubio and some pretty solid play from sixth man – and former Miami Heat player – Michael Beasley. Currently they are just 2 games out of the 8th and final seed for the NBA playoffs.
Playoffs? What? Playoffs? Who said that?
Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick played strong off the bench, scoring 14
Yes, Playoffs. Something the Timberwolves have missed for the past 7 seasons, but hey, anything is possible. And after the horrific season from the beloved Minnesota Vikings, those touk wearing folk could use a team to be proud of, don’t ya know (insert Fargo/fake Canadian accent here)?
Enough with the set-up, we got a game to talk about.
The Magic came out of the gate quickly, building a 15-6 lead just four minutes into the game. Leading the way for the Magic were Hedo Turkoglu and Anderson, both put up 5 points in the first 4 minutes.
But before the Orlando Magic could snuggle up and take things easy, Love and Rubio decided to join in the fun. Love ended the first quarter with 8 points and Rubio added 7. The leading scorer for the Magic was none other than Anderson, who had 10.
The score after one was Magic 29, the Timberwolves 26.
The second quarter started similar to the first, with the Magic men taking early control. With 5:34 left in the quarter, the Magic found themselves up 44-33. There was no love for Kevin in this quarter, being held to just 2 points.
Orlando, on the other hand, saw J.J. Redick get a little action for himself, putting up 7 in the quarter. At halftime, Orlando was leading by 11, 55-44.
Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard only scored 11 points
Heading into the second half with an 11-point lead and a head of steam, the Orlando Magic came out and basically put this one out of reach of the visitors. Orlando went up by 20 at the 8:24 mark of the third.
And just like clock work, guess who decided to show up again today? None other than J-Rich, who put up 13 in quarter. The T-Wolves would make a little run led by Rubio and Love, but never getting any closer than 11. The quarter ended with the Orlando Magic leading 79-66.
The fourth and final quarter was as total wash as both teams matched each other basket for basket and tallying 23 on the scoreboard. That gave the Magic an easy 102-89 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The leading scorer for the Orlando Magic was J-Rich, who had 17 points, followed by Redick, Jameer Nelson and Turkoglu each putting up 14 apiece. Ryan Anderson had a mediocre night, scoring only 13 points and pulling down 5 boards.
Where is Dwight Howard’s name you ask? Oh, well he was in foul trouble most of the game and ended with 11 points and 7 boards. The Magic ended up with six players in double figures.
Leading the way for The Minnesota Timberwolves was – surprise – Kevin Love who scored 19 grabbed 15 rebounds. Other notable Wolves included Nikola Pekovic (16 points, 13 rebounds) and Beasley (13 points). Star rookie Rubio put in 11, as did J.J. Barea.
The Orlando Magic play their next game this Wednesday at home against the Philadelphia 76ers, who are riding in on a two-game win streak. I expect this to be a hard fought battle, with lots of defense and a low score at the end.
My Prediction: 76ers 88, Magic 84
It was hard to pick against the Magic, but I just don’t know how long J-Rich and Anderson can carry this team against quality opponents. Yes Dwight, I’m asking you to step up and prove me wrong in this game (11 and 7 is just not cutting it). Those are not All-Star numbers Mr. D12 – those are the kind of stats that a rookie center puts up then gets a nice little pat on the back followed by a circular motion for not completely sucking!
That being said, if J-Rich and Anderson both have big nights, then look for this score to be flip-flopped.
PG – 76ers
SG – Slight Magic
SF – 76ers
PF – Slight Magic
C – Magic
Bench – 76ers
By: Mike Yesenko/Sunshine Slate
Images: Orlando Magic