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The Sports Xchange, Published October 30 2013

Timberwolves win opener in OT against Magic

MINNEAPOLIS – For the Minnesota Timberwolves, the season opener was a little bit old, a little bit new.

Battling both the pesky Orlando Magic and their own second-half offensive slump, the Wolves got a late 3-pointer from Kevin Love to force overtime, then seven points from newcomer Kevin Martin in the extra session to seal a 120-115 victory Wednesday night.

“In the overtime, we did a nice job of defending them and executing,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman, who wasn’t happy with either facet of his team’s game for stretches of the game. “We’ll take the win. We just have to learn from it.”

Up as many as 17 points in the second quarter, the Wolves found themselves down 103-100 after two free throws by Orlando rookie Victor Oladipo with 12.5 seconds left. After a timeout, Love took a pass from Ricky Rubio and hit a 25-foot shot with 10 seconds left to force overtime.

Given a reprieve, Martin – 4-for-17 in regulation – made both of his shots in overtime.

“Thanks to K-Love, he gave us another chance,” said Martin, who signed as a free agent over the summer. “He said he was going to give me another chance in the OT, and that’s what he did. I couldn’t let him down for the fifth straight quarter.”

Love scored 31 points and grabbed 17 rebounds. His clutch trey marked the third time he hit a tying or go-ahead 3-pointer in the final 10 seconds of a game.

Martin had 23 points. Fellow free-agent signee Corey Brewer scored 16 points, and Rubio added 13 points and 11 assists.

Orlando, which lost its season opener to the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, shot 47 percent on Wednesday. The Magic got 28 points from Arron Afflalo, 18 from Jameer Nelson and 14 from Oladipo. Center Nikola Vucevic contributed 22 points and 16 rebounds.

“It hurts more than you know,” said Affalo, whose baseline jumper at the regulation horn came up short. “We had the game won. We want to start capitalizing on these types of games.”

Moving the ball well, the Wolves led by nine after one quarter and pushed the lead to 17 in the second. Then the offense stagnated, allowing Orlando to use dribble penetration to keep things close.

Vucevic’s dunk with 3:46 left in the fourth quarter gave Orlando the lead for the first time since early in the first 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.

After a Wolves turnover, Afflalo 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 to go, setting the stage for the Wolves’ comeback.

First, Love came off a screen and hit the tying 3-pointer.

“I told the guys, two, three minutes left, just keep playing through it,” Love said. “It’s going to be a learning experience for us, but we’re going to win this game. They all agreed.”

In the overtime, the Wolves got back to business. Nikola Pekovic’s three-point play gave the Wolves a three point lead. Moments later, Martin came across the lane, was fouled by Oladipo, hit the 17-footer and the free throw, and the lead was back to four.

“I just caught the defender in a bad position and made him pay for it,” Martin said.

Orlando 27 25 28 23 12–115

Minnesota 38 22 27 16 17–120

ORLANDO (115): Harkless 1-3 0-0 2, Maxiell 2-3 0-0 4, Vucevic 9-15 4-6 22, Nelson 7-17 1-2 18, Afflalo 11-22 3-4 28, Oladipo 5-14 3-4 14, Moore 4-11 0-0 10, Nicholson 6-12 0-0 13, O’Quinn 0-0 0-0 0, Jones 2-3 0-2 4. Totals 47-100 11-18 115.

MINNESOTA (120): Brewer 7-11 1-3 16, Love 8-19 12-16 31, Pekovic 5-11 1-1 11, Rubio 5-15 2-2 13, Martin 6-19 9-9 23, Turiaf 1-4 1-1 3, Barea 4-9 2-2 11, Shved 1-5 0-0 2, Cunningham 5-7 0-0 10. Totals 42-100 28-34 120.

3-Point Goals_Orlando 10-27 (Afflalo 3-5, Nelson 3-11, Moore 2-3, Nicholson 1-2, Oladipo 1-5, Harkless 0-1), Minnesota 8-25 (Love 3-8, Martin 2-7, Barea 1-2, Rubio 1-3, Brewer 1-4, Shved 0-1). Fouled Out_Nelson. Rebounds_Orlando 63 (Vucevic 16), Minnesota 61 (Love 17). Assists_Orlando 21 (Nelson 8), Minnesota 27 (Rubio 11). Total Fouls_Orlando 29, Minnesota 19. A_17,988 (19,356).