Energy, tenacity and balance have kept the Orlando Magic going during their current three-game winning streak. Kicking off a five-game West coast road trip, the team was going to need to keep building the consistency they were starting to see, starting Tuesday night in Minnesota against the Timberwolves. Despite squandering a double digit lead, the Magic were able to pull out a tight victory, topping the Timberwolves 96-93.
Early on in the game, the Magic's defense was smothering, forcing 12 misses in the 'Wolves' first 13 shots. Their stellar defense wasn't leading to offense, however, with the Magic struggling to find consistency on their offensive end, shooting 9-of-23 in the quarter. Orlando was able to take advantage of Minnesota's mistakes, however, turning their five turnovers into 10 points. Defense was the leader for the Magic, holding Minnesota to just 14 points in the quarter, allowing the Magic to jump out to a seven point lead after one.
The second quarter was a completely different story for the Magic, who began picking apart the Timberwolves offensively. Behind strong play from Andrew Nicholson the Magic were able to slowly push their lead out to as many as 15, seemingly taking a stronghold of the game, much like they have done in their previous three contests. Eight of the Magic's 10 players to play in the quarter scored, led by Nicholson's eight points and two rebounds. At the half, the Magic were in a comfortable position, leading by 13, 54-41.
Unlike their previous two games, the Magic came out of halftime flat, struggling on the offensive end throughout the entirety of the third quarter. After pushing their lead up to 17 early in the quarter, Minnesota was able to control much of the remainder of the 12 minutes, cutting the Magic's lead down to nine by the end of the quarter. The Magic's defense was still generally strong, but had trouble defending without fouling, sending the Timberwolves to the line eight times in the quarter.
Up by nine, the Magic seemed poised to win their fourth straight game for the first time in nearly three years. However, Minnesota continued to chip away, tying the game up by the midway point of the quarter. Still tied up late, Victor Oladipo scored five straight points, giving the Magic some breathing room. A three-point play from Gorgui Dieng cut the Magic lead down to two, before an impressive drive and finish from Elfrid Payton gave them a little bit more wiggle room.
After Andrew Wiggins knocked down a pair of free throws, the Magic had a chance to put the game out of reach. Nikola Vucevic missed a hook shot, with Wiggins sprinting out ahead of the Magic's defense, in the end getting fouled by Oladipo. Wiggins split the pair, with Nicholson locking up the rebound, immediately getting hacked by multiple Wolves. The reserve big man calmly knocked in the pair, giving the Magic a three-point lead with 3.1 seconds remaining. Out of the timeout, Aaron Gordon got a finger on Wiggins' attempt to tie, giving the Magic their fourth straight win.
Six Magic men finished in double figures, led by Vucevic's 18-point, 12-rebound double-double. Nicholson finished with 15 off the bench, while Elfrid Payton added 13 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Oladipo and Tobias Harris finished with 13 a piece, with Evan Fournier rounding out the bunch with 12.
Wiggins led all scorers, finishing with 27 on the night. Kevin Martin added 16, Zach LaVine and Dieng adding 12 and 11 off the bench respectively.