Magic beat Wolves 128-86, atrocious defense continues
Get the 1500 ESPN SportsWire delivered to your inbox daily, and keep up with all the news in Twin Cities Sports
Coach Kurt Rambis said during the preseason he believed the Minnesota Timberwolves' team defense was ahead of the offense.
The team mantra all summer long was that this new-look Wolves team had an emphasis on defense and would at least be competitive—something that has been missing for years.
In Wednesday night's 128-86 loss to the Orlando Magic, the Wolves showed no semblance of defense and even less competitiveness.
The Wolves lost all three games on their road trip by 20, 32 and 42 and have given up 113 points per game—good for last in the league.
The loss was the 15th consecutive road loss for the Wolves, dating back to last season.
With Beasley sitting out after injuring his hip the night before in Miami, Rambis shook up the starting lineup for the first time this season. Rookie Wesley Johnson took Beasley's spot at small forward and Corey Brewer replaced Wayne Ellington
Rambis said the shuffle was to inject some energy in the lineup but it certainly did not work. Coming off a 129-97 loss to the Heat, the Wolves came out flat in the first quarter, scoring just one field goal in the final six minutes of the quarter while being outscored 33-8.
The second-quarter was more of the same. With the Magic reserves getting significant time, the Wolves were outscored 41-27 in the second quarter to trail 78-45.
Giving up 78 first half-points to the Magic was nearly a franchise record for the Wolves, Phoenix put up 79 in the first half against the Wolves last March in a 152-114 win.
To put the ineptitude in even more perspective, the Magic shot better from behind the three-point line (9-20, 45%) than the Wolves did from the floor (14-40, 35%).
The second half was played merely for procedural purposes only.
Frustration began to set in with 4:26 left in the third when Darko Milicic picked up his second technical of the season for swatting a dead basketball. 25 seconds later, Kevin Love picked one up with the Wolves trailing 94-59.
Dwight Howard was impressive for the Magic, scoring 18 points, grabbing 16 boards and swatting 8 shots in just 23 minutes
Once again, Kevin Love was the statistical leader for the Wolves, scoring 22 points but finishing one rebound short of a double-double.
Darko Milicic struggled again this road trip, failing to score (0-6) for a third game this season. Milicic did block three shots in just 18 minutes.
Taking on the Magic in Orlando is no easy task even if the Wolves had Beasley, Martell Webster and Jonny Flynn available. This, however, was a clear case of a young team coming off a back-to-back that realized they didn't have a chance against a rested Magic team, and their effort level showed that.
Mercifully, the Wolves come home for game against Atlanta Friday night at Target Center. From there, it is right back on the road for the dreaded West-coast road trip where they'll take on Houston, L.A. Lakers and Sacramento.