Dwight Howard was in foul trouble, but the Magic got solid contributions from up and down their roster as Orlando took the lead and control early and never looked back on their way to a 102-89 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
With their big man, Dwight Howard, in foul trouble the Orlando Magic got a balanced effort from just about everybody else on the roster to take control of the lead late in the first half and hold the Minnesota Timberwolves at bay the rest of the way for a 102-89 win in Orlando.
Howard played only 28 minutes due to that foul trouble and ended the game with only 11 points and 7 rebounds, his lowest numbers in over a month. Picking up the slack was the rest of the team as five other Magic players had double digit nights in scoring, led by Jason Richardson's 17 points.
Each quarter saw a different Magic player stepping up to score. In the first, it was Ryan Anderson, who scored 10 of his 13 in the first quarter, helping the Magic get off to a 29-26 lead after the initial quarter.
In the second quarter the Magic bench took charge, led by J.J. Redick and Earl Clark who had seven and eight points respectively in a second quarter that saw the Magic grab the double digit lead they wouldn't relinquish. Clark's eight points tied a season high and represents only the second time all year he scored more than five in a game, providing solid relief for Howard.
The Timberwolves got good efforts from their frontcourt duo of All-Star Kevin Love (19 points, 15 rebounds) and Nikola Pekovic, who went for 16 points and 13 rebounds himself. Pekovic's rebound total included seven offensive rebounds, all of which occurred with Howard on the court and five occurring in two separate sequences that ended with Pekovic layups.
Minnesota never could find their range to make any meaningful runs after halftime and hurt themselves with 18 turnovers while only forcing nine from Orlando.
The Magic, meanwhile, kept getting meaningful efforts from different contributors as the third quarter was Richardson's turn to shine, scoring 13 of his 17 in that period. The final quarter was closed out by Jameer Nelson, who hit two threes and his only two assists of the game in the fourth.
The Magic were led in assists by Hedo Turkoglu, who made the pass of the night to Howard, a lob-dunk sequence reminiscent of their run to the Finals a few years back. As Howard landed and began to come back down the floor, there was an obvious "Finally!" from the All-Star center while Turkoglu raised his arms to the heavens with a smile.
It was a tough night for the Timberwolves backcourt, who got beat by Richardson, Redick and Nelson while struggling to get their own games on track. Ricky Rubio had 11 points and 8 assists in 39+ minutes but turned the ball over five times. J.J. Barea was worse, stumbling to a 4-10 shooting night with seven turnovers against a single assist. The indignity of the evening was sealed for Barea as he seemed to get shoved down on the baseline defensively against Redick later in the fourth quarter. As Barea staggered to his feet, looking for a foul call, he watched as Redick, now wide open, hit a three.