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News » Timberwolves fizzle against Magic in follow-up to rare victory

Timberwolves fizzle against Magic in follow-up to rare victory

Timberwolves fizzle against Magic in follow-up to rare victory
One and done.

When it comes to wins, that has been the story of this season for the Timberwolves, who failed once again Saturday to put together their first two-game winning streak.

One night after ending a 13-game losing streak, the Wolves spotted the Orlando Magic a 17-2 lead and were outscored 39-20 in the fourth quarter of a 118-94 loss at Target Center.

Coach Kevin McHale, 1-9 since replacing the fired Randy Wittman, summed up his team's night in one sentence: "We started off with low energy in the first and ended up with low energy in the fourth."

The Wolves (5-24) got in late after Friday night's 120-107 win at New York and were playing the second of back-to-back games, but center Al Jefferson said that was no excuse.

"Those guys just made some hellified shots," he said. "Our defense, we need to step up in the fourth quarter. That was the difference in the game. We can't afford to play three quarters against a good team like that."

The Magic shot 64 percent (16 of 25) in the fourth quarter to turn an 82-82 game into a runaway.

Hedo Turkoglu scored 26 points, and Rashard Lewis and Jameer Nelson added 24 and 20, respectively, for Orlando (24-6), which ran its winning streak to seven games and swept the season series.

Rashad McCants had 21 points and Jefferson added 16 to lead the Wolves, who will be back at Target Center on Monday to face Memphis and O.J. Mayo. Mayo is the player the Wolves drafted with the No. 3 selection in June and traded to Grizzlies in a deal that brought No. 5 pick Kevin Love and shooting guard Mike Miller to the Wolves.

The Wolves played like they were sleep-deprived at the start.

Looking for some energy, McHale substituted veteran forward Mark Madsen for Jefferson (1 for 6) at the 6:36 mark, and Craig Smith played just 6:09 in the first half.

Even so, McHale said he felt pretty good about his team's chances at halftime, after the Wolves had rallied to take a 55-53 lead.

"It just never seemed to me that we could muster the defensive intensity we needed to get that game going our way," he said. "We didn't get any stops in the first, and we didn't get any stops in the fourth."

The Wolves increased their advantage to 60-53 early in the second half, but Lewis scored five points, and Dwight Howard slammed home a pair of dunks during a 14-0 run that put Orlando up 69-61 with 6:25 to play in the period.

Jefferson stemmed the flood with back-to-back baskets, but Lewis hit a three-pointer and a layup to give the Magic a 74-66 bulge.

Anthony Johnson hit another three for Orlando before the quarter was over, but a McCants three-pointer and Ryan Gomes jumper kept the Wolves close at 79-74 entering the final 12 minutes.

Rodney Carney got Minnesota even at 82-82 with 10:16 to play by following a McCants three with one of his own.

The Magic scored the next six points before McCants hit two free throws, but Orlando went a 14-3 tear to make it 102-87 and ended the game on a 14-2 run.

McHale, as he has several times, bemoaned his players' tendency to hang their heads when the going gets tough.

"I think there are times when things don't go our way, that two or three minutes where we almost feel sorry for ourselves," he said. "That shouldn't affect your defense, but it does. We've got to get past that."

Guard Randy Foye, who scored 12 points, said it was a tough loss to take, especially after the high of the win over the Knicks.

"Last night felt so good, and then tonight it was a little bit frustrating," he said. "They hit a lot of big shots to knock the wind out of us down the stretch; that's no excuse. We were up seven or eight. We had the lead. We've got to be able to put them away whether we're tired or not."

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 29, 2008


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