The Minnesota Timberwolves were without 60% of their usual starting lineup as well as their top three scoring options. Despite some solid play from usuals Rubio & Brewer, the Wolves fell to the Magic in Orlando on Saturday night.
Kevin Love sat with back spasms, Kevin Martin missed a second-straight game with a sore foot and Nikola Pekovic has now missed twenty of Minnesota's last thirty games with his ankle problems. The Wolves were also without rookie Shabazz Muhammad who is nursing a knee sprain after colliding with Chris Andersen in last night's win over the Heat.
The Wolves started a new starting lineup in tonight's game, their 11th of the season: Ricky Rubio, Chase Budinger, Corey Brewer, Dante Cunningham and Gorgui Dieng.
Budinger got the start after having his best offensive outing of his Timberwolves career with 24 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the 2OT thriller vs. Miami on Friday. He played all of one minute before exiting for the night with an ankle injury.
Dante Cunningham returned from his one-game absence after posting bail and arriving in Orlando earlier today. Kevin Love was a late scratch from the lineup with back spasms and Dante got his sixth start of the season. He brought the same intensity on both ends of the floor we've seen all season--especially in games that he starts.
With no Kevin Martin and ultimately no Chase Budinger, rookie Robbie Hummel played a career-high 33 minutes and also set a new career-high with 12 points.
Mbah a Moute scored 8 of his 10 points in the opening quarter and was very aggressive driving the baselines for layups.
The most impressive tonight, however was Ricky Rubio. In games that the Wolves have been without a lot of their usual scoring punch, we've seen Ricky step up into that role. Especially when the Wolves are without Kevin Love, Rubio seems to take his offensive games to entirely new levels. That was the case again tonight as he was ultra-aggressive driving lanes for easy layups as well as adding a number of mid-range shots to boot. He finished with a double-double.
The Wolves simply seemed a little undermanned and were ultimately overpowered by the Orlando Magic bench. The Magic have two incredibly talented young players that come off their bench in rookie guard Victor Oladipo and forward Tobias Harris. Oladipo scored 10 of his 16 and Harris added 6 of his 17 in the fourth quarter. Those two alone outscored the whole Wolves unit 15-16 in the fourth.
After last night's double overtime win it was apparent that Rubio & Brewer (among others) definitely had some tired legs--a lot of the shots that had gone down earlier in the game couldn't find bottom.
When you couple that with the fact that the Wolves hit just 1 three-pointer (in 15 attempts) and the fact that they left 9 points at the line, it's easy to see why they lost. You can add to that the fact that the Magic shot over 50% from both the field and from deep as another key factor.
The Wolves are back at .500 on the season, but they'll have a couple days rest until their next matchup. They'll face the San Antonio Spurs in a makeup game on Tuesday night at the Target Center, that one will tip at 7pmCST.
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!