It was a game the Magic needed to lose. And they did so in grand fashion.
With precious ping pong balls on the line, the Magic never stood a chance against their fellow lottery contenders, trailing by more than 40 at times in what was an ugly 128-96 loss to the Timberwolves.
The Magic struggled to move the ball and forced shots in traffic from the get go. They shot 25 percent in the first quarter, going 2 of 11 from three, against a Timberwolves team that owns the league’s third-worst defense rating.
The Wolves’ big three of Karl-Anthony Towns (13), D’Angelo Russell (10) and Anthony Edwards (8) combined for 31 first-quarter points, as the trio connected on 5 of 9 three-point attempts. A three by Edwards capped a 12-2 Wolves run that opened a 22-11 advantage with 5:10 remaining in the first. The lead reached 14 before R.J. Hampton converted a three-point play and Moe Wagner hit a three to help the Magic pull within single digits. But a three-point play by Towns and a three at the buzzer by Russell sent the Wolves into the second with a 34-19 lead.
The Wolves continued to have their way with the Magic in the paint in the second, shooting 57.1 percent from the field en route to a 40-point quarter. The lead reached 30 when Jarred Vanderbilt converted a layup just before the buzzer to give the Wolves a 74-44 lead at the half. Towns, with 2 first-half points, and Russell, with 19, nearly combined to outscored the Magic, who shot 32.6 percent in the half, going just 5-for-16 from three and getting blocked seven times.
The Wolves went up by 41 in the third, and I don’t think we really have to say anything more about this one.
Towns and Russell finished with 27 each to lead the Wolves. Ricky Rubio had 18 and Anthony Edwards added 16 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.
R.J. Hampton set a new career-high for the second time this week, finishing with 19 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Dwayne Bacon added 18 points on 7-for-12 shooting and Ignas Brazdeikis added 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Rough night from the field for everyone else, including Mo Bamba, who had his rebounding streak snapped after a quiet night of just 3 points and 5 rebounds. The Magic finish with a home record of 11-25.
With the loss, the Magic gain a game in the reverse standings on the Wolves, with the two teams having an identical 21-47 record. With the Cavs losing to the Mavs on Sunday, there is now a four-way tie for the league’s third worst record between the Magic, Wolves, Cavs and Thunder. All four sit one game ahead of the 20-48 Pistons in the race for the bottom three’s 14 percent chance of obtaining the No. 1 overall pick.
It was the final game of the season at Amway Center for the Magic, who close on a four-game road trip against playoff teams who still could be fighting for seeding. That starts in Milwaukee on Tuesday, followed by Atlanta on Thursday and then a season-ending two-game set in Philadelphia.
Only highlight needed from this game was Markelle Fultz behind the mic giving updates...