Magic-Timberwolves Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated November 07, 2012
The Minnesota Timberwolves found themselves on the verge of a second consecutive loss before a big rally their last time out. Now they're hoping for a change of fortunes against the Orlando Magic. Minnesota tries to avoid an eighth consecutive loss to visiting Orlando, which could be without injured point guard Jameer Nelson again Wednesday night. One day after falling 105-86 at Toronto, Minnesota (2-1) appeared headed for another disappointing result Monday before pulling out a 107-96 road win over Brooklyn thanks to a huge fourth-quarter surge. The Timberwolves, who outscored the Nets 32-10 over the final 12 minutes, trailed by as many as 22 points, marking their largest comeback in 15 seasons. Minnesota shot a season-best 49.4 percent from the field and outrebounded Brooklyn 46-30. Nikola Pekovic recorded 21 points while Andrei Kirilenko scored 16 to go along with 10 rebounds for his first double-double. "The first half was a continuation of last game," Kirilenko, who added four blocks, told the team's official website. "We had a lack of focus. But in the second half, we just talked to each other and did not worry about the losing quarter. We had to just improve our game because since the beginning of the season we had good stretches and bad stretches, but we have to stay in the game with consistency." The Timberwolves now look to snap their recent woes against the Magic. Orlando (2-1) has taken seven straight in this series by an average of 17.1 points while limiting Minnesota to 41.2 percent shooting, although Dwight Howard played in all those games. After winning their first two contests following the departure of the three-time NBA defensive player of the year, the Magic couldn't keep up Tuesday in a 99-93 loss at Chicago. Arron Afflalo had 28 points while E'Twaun Moore - starting in place of Nelson - scored 17. Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic each had 16 with 10 rebounds, but Orlando couldn't hold a lead going into the final period. "Our lull offensively gave them an opportunity to hit some shots in the fourth quarter," said Afflalo, averaging 19.2 points in his last six games against Minnesota. "It's unfortunate, because it was a game I thought we could have won." The Magic had a chance to open 3-0 for the fourth time in franchise history but shot just 41.9 percent and got only 14 bench points after their reserves totaled 81 in the first two games. "We can't play one-on-one basketball," first-year coach Jacque Vaughn said. "When we shared the basketball we got good looks. But when we turn it into a one-on-one contest, we're not going to get good looks." Getting Nelson back would surely give Orlando a boost, but the nine-year veteran is listed as day to day after missing his second straight game Tuesday with a strained right hamstring and groin. Slowing down Kirilenko could prove key for the Magic. He's averaged 14.0 points against Orlando in his career, his second-highest mark against any opponent. Kirilenko, who was named last season's Euroleague MVP while playing with CSKA Moscow, is averaging 14.3 points on 68.0 percent shooting for Minnesota.
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