Love Carries Wolves Past Magic 120-115
MINNEAPOLIS -- Kevin Love had 31 points and 17 rebounds and hit the game-tying 3-pointer with 10.2 seconds left to force overtime in the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 120-115 victory over the Orlando Magic on Wednesday night.
Ricky Rubio had 13 points, 11 assists and three steals for the Timberwolves, who survived a major scare from a young and rebuilding team.
Arron Afflalo had 28 points and nine rebounds and Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic. Orlando was playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but led by three with 12.5 seconds to play.
Love made a 3-pointer just over two seconds later to tie the game and Afflalo missed a turn-around baseline jumper at the buzzer that would have won the game in regulation.
Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin hit three-point plays in overtime for a 113-107 lead with 2:36 to play, and the Wolves just breathed a big sigh of relief at the start of a season that begins with high expectations.
Corey Brewer finished with 16 points and Martin scored 23 points on 6-for-19 shooting.
Jameer Nelson had 18 points and eight assists and Victor Oladipo had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists for Orlando.
But it was a triumphant return for Love, who played in just 18 games last season due to a twice-broken hand.
The injury issues, and Love’s perceived unhappiness with the organization under previous president David Kahn soured him with some fans. He spent the summer working out harder than ever to be ready to reclaim his status as the league’s top power forward and looked like his old self against the Magic.
If any fans had any lingering hard feelings, they were buried with that big 3-pointer from the left elbow.
The Timberwolves added Martin and Brewer and entered the season figuring to ride a high-octane offense into the playoffs for the first time since 2004. The offense was humming early as the Wolves scored 38 points in the first quarter.
The lead swelled to 17 points early in the second quarter, but coach Rick Adelman’s concerns about this team’s makeup surfaced later in the period. Adelman spoke before the game about the Wolves’ propensity for losing focus, especially on the defensive end, and that’s exactly what happened on Wednesday night.
After a rough shooting night in the opener against the rugged Pacers, Afflalo found the groove in the third quarter. His 3-pointer cut Minnesota’s lead to 69-68 midway through the quarter and the Magic trailed by seven heading into the fourth.
All looked lost when Oladipo hit two free throws for a 103-100 lead with 12.5 seconds to go. Love came off a screen, rose up and swished the big shot, then hollered at the delirious crowd.
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