Timberwolves win opener in overtime
MINNEAPOLIS — Finally, the Minnesota Timberwolves were healthy, newly stocked with depth, ready to provide the locals with more thrills than chills.
Target Center fans got that and more Wednesday in the Timberwolves’ season-opening, 120-115 overtime victory over the Orlando Magic, who wouldn’t go away while playing for the second time in two nights.
Kevin Love’s 3-pointer with 10.1 seconds left forced overtime, then Kevin Martin scored seven points and Nikola Pekovic added five in the overtime for Minnesota.
Seven Timberwolves scored in double figures, including all five starters. Love finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds. Newly signed Kevin Martin had 23 points, including a game-sealing three-point play in overtime. Corey Brewer had 16 points, and Ricky Rubio added 13 points and 11 assists.
Arron Affalo led six Magic players in double figures with 28 points. Nikola Vucevic had 22 points and 16 rebounds, Jameer Nelson had 18 points, and rookie Victor Oladipo had 14 points and six assists.
Minnesota led for much of the game, with the advantage going as high as 17 in the second quarter, but the Magic kept chipping away.
Orlando, which had not led since early in the first quarter, finally took the lead on Vucevic’s dunk with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter. With 3:07 to go, Solomon Jones’ put-back made it 99-98 Magic. At the other end, Rubio missed a mid-range jumper, but Brewer came flying in from the right side for the put-back to give the Wolves a 100-99 lead with 2:11 left.
Moments later, after a Wolves turnover, Affalo scored on the break for a 101-100 Magic lead with 24.4 seconds left. Two free throws by Oladipo made it 103-100 with 12.5 seconds left. Coming out of a timeout, Love hit a 3-pointer to tie the game. Affalo’s baseline jumper at the buzzer came up short, forcing overtime.
With the game tied at 105, Pekovic scored, was fouled and made the free throw. Jones scored at the other end. Martin then drove across the lane, was fouled and but hit an off-balance shot. His free throw made it 111-107 and sealed the game.
Orlando fell to 0-2 on the young season. The Wolves improved to 17-8 in home openers, 15-10 in season-opening games.
Notes: After keeping his decision close to the vest all week, Wolves coach Rick Adelman decided to open the season with Brewer as the starting small forward. That alignment won’t necessarily last. Wanting to get off to a good start, Adelman went with Brewer and his energetic play. .... Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders, looking to build some esprit de corps, gave every staff member, coach and player a specially made coin that has the team’s logo, name and the phrase “We’re ready” on it. ... Wednesday’s game featured the only two NBA players from Montenegro, Pekovic and Vucevic. ... Magic G Doron Lamb (ankle) is close to being able to play, but he missed his second game Wednesday. .... Orlando coach Jacque Vaughn on having to start the season with two road games: “It’s absolutely wonderful. It’s a good challenge for our guys.”