Ricky Rubio’s second game after returning from injury didn’t go as well as his first. The Wolves point guard finished with four assists, three turnovers and no points.

John Raoux, Associated Press

ORLANDO 102, WOLVES 93 Up next: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Miami • TV: FSN, NBA TV (830-AM)

Wolves fade late, done in by 'Baby'

  • Article by: JERRY ZGODA
  • Star Tribune
  • December 18, 2012 - 7:36 AM

ORLANDO - Even with young stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio back on the court together for the first time this season, the Wolves discovered in Tuesday's 102-93 loss at Orlando that life won't always be as happy and shiny as it was Saturday night.

That's when Rubio returned nine months after he underwent knee surgery to a welcoming roar from an energized Target Center crowd on a magical night when the Wolves beat Dallas in overtime even while Love slept through the game while sick at home.

On Monday night, Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman emerged from his team's dressing room rumpled and grumpy and muttered something about letting the Orlando Magic grasp all the game's momentum after his team had built a 15-point, third-quarter lead.

And when Big Baby gets rumbling in the open court as he did repeatedly in the second half at Amway Center, that's an awful lot of momentum.

Magic forward Glen Davis -- the aforementioned, nicknamed "Big Baby" -- scored 20 of his 28 points in a second half when Orlando outscored the Wolves 53-32 and wrestled the evening's momentum away with a running game featuring the heftiest guy on the court.

Afterward, Love uttered two truisms, one about the Magic's 6-8, 290-pound seemingly unstoppable forward and one about the sport itself.

"He's a load," Love said.

The other?

"A dunk is an easy shot," Love said.

The Wolves discovered both on Tuesday.

They shot 32 percent in the second half and when the Wolves didn't succeed in crashing the offensive backboards with Love, Andrei Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic, it seemed Davis beat them down the court for dunks and layups nearly every time.

"We didn't get back, they got easy opportunities and then they got their head up," said Adelman, whose team led 68-53 early in the third quarter. "In this league, you give a team a chance to get going, especially at home, you're going to end up in trouble and that's what happened to us."

Rubio did not amaze as he did Saturday. Instead, he labored through a 16 1/2 minute night -- 92 seconds shy of his 18-minute limit -- when he didn't score a point, had four assists and three turnovers and said he didn't move nearly as well as he did Saturday.

"If I have to say, I didn't feel good at all today," Rubio said. "I felt better the other day with all the hype, all the crowd. It was easier to play. Today was harder. I didn't feel like the first game. I just have to move forward. There are things that are going to happen. You just have to face those issues because it has been nine months without playing."

Love shook off a sprained thumb, Saturday's illness and 7-for-35 shooting his previous two games and hopped back aboard the double-double train with a 23-point, 15-rebound night, even though he disappeared to the locker room after the third quarter and returned early in the fourth.

"I had to take care of some things," he said simply when asked about his absence.

Despite his stats, it was clear that neither Love nor Rubio still were feeling exactly like themselves on a night when the Magic won its third consecutive game while stopping the Wolves' winning streak at four games.

"My first game out there playing with him," Love said. "It has taken me a long time and I'm still not where I should be [back from a broken hand]. Just like me, it'll take Ricky some time. He looks good. You see him out there, passing the ball, glimpses of his old self. He just needs to get in the flow of the game.

"It's tough for him when you can't get in a rhythm. He's going in and out of the game. As he plays more minutes, he'll get that rhythm. I definitely empathize with him ... Give him some time. Give us some time."

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