Timberwolves fall to Magic, losing streak reaches four games
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Jason Richardson had 17 points and the Orlando Magic made 12 of 30 three-pointers Monday night en route to a 102-89 victory over the slumping Minnesota Timberwolves at Amway Center.
The loss was the Wolves' fourth in a row and dropped them three games below .500 at 13-16.
Guard Luke Ridnour did not make the trip with the Wolves to Orlando because he had to attend to a personal issue. This created the opportunity for Martell Webster to get the start at shooting guard and for coach Rick Adelman to try some different things with his lineup.
This was Webster's second start in a Wolves uniform, the first coming last Feb. 16 when he scored 11 points against the Los Angeles Clippers. Webster's been best known during his time with the Wolves for having undergone the same back surgery twice since he was acquired in 2010.
The six-year veteran opened the scoring Monday after he came around a screen, caught a Ricky Rubio pass and buried a 24-footer. But Webster finished with only five points on 1-for-4 shooting in 23 minutes.
The Magic held a 55-44 lead at halftime and the game snowballed out of control from there for the Wolves, who came out playing sloppy in the third quarter and saw the Magic go on a 14-5 run to take a 20-point lead.
The Wolves allowed the Magic to dictate the tempo and pace all game long and never appeared to be in control in what turned into their seventh consecutive loss against Orlando.
The Wolves went on a 16-5 run in the fourth quarter to get within eight after a pair of Derrick Williams free throws with 5 minutes, 47 seconds left, but the Magic answered with a 9-0 run of their own to put it away.
Dwight Howard didn't even need to have a big game for the Magic. Foul trouble plagued the All-Star who sat for long stretches in both halves.
Magic coach Stan Van Gundy gambled in the fourth quarter by putting Howard back in the game with 5:47 remaining despite five fouls but it ended up being inconsequential.
Howard finished with 11 points and seven rebounds in 28 minutes.
Howard didn't beat the Wolves, but turnovers and sloppy defense on the perimeter certainly did.
The Wolves turned over the ball 18 times -- the Magic turned those miscues into 17 points -- and have 69 combined turnovers in their past three games. Rubio (five) and J.J. Barea (seven) combined for 12 of them Monday.
The Magic also had six players hit at least one three-pointer, and six scored in double-figures as the Magic reached the century mark against the Wolves for the seventh game in a row.
The Wolves showed little fire or effort in the first half, but it wasn't until the second half that the Magic took full control and went up by 20 points.
The Wolves managed to cut the deficit to eight in the fourth quarter, but Orlando never came close to losing control and quickly ended any hope the Wolves might have had of coming back and stealing one on the Magic's home floor.
• 22: Dunks for Love this season after a first-quarter slam, matching his entire total from last season through only 26 games.
• 18: Turnovers for Barea in the past four games. He has struggled to get into any type of rhythm or find a level of consistency over the past week.
• 15: Losing streaks of four-plus games for the Wolves in going 17-65 last season. Monday's loss was the Wolves' first four-game losing streak under Adelman.
Darko Milicic returned from a sprained ankle he suffered last week in practice that caused him to miss four games while he rehabbed.
As expected, Pekovic remained in the starting lineup and it seems as if Milicic has officially lost his starting spot for the time being.
It wasn't exactly a shining return to the lineup for Milicic. His three fouls nearly matched the four minutes he played in the first half. It is unclear whether Adelman had seen enough, or Milicic's ankle might have stiffened up on him, but he never got off the bench in the second half.
The Wolves flew home after the game and do not have a game Tuesday. It has yet to be decided if the team will practice or if players will get a chance to rest their legs before Wednesday's game against Charlotte at Target Center.
The Bobcats, who at 3-25 are the NBA's worst team, will be making their only appearance at Target Center this season.
The Wolves will then get Thursday off before playing the Rockets for the fourth and final time in the regular season on Friday in Houston.
All eyes will be on Love and Luis Scola in that game. Love was suspended two games for stepping on Scola's head and chest in a Feb. 4 game at Target Center.