Wolves ragged yet resilient in victory over Magic

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 8, 2012 - 7:01 AM

The Wolves struggled mightily, especially in the second quarter, but their stingy team defense kept them out of trouble and raised their record to 3-1.

 

A year or two ago, there probably would have been a little letdown after a big win. A year ago, the Wolves might have followed Monday's come-from- behind victory in Brooklyn with a stinker.

Not this time.

On a night when shots at times weren't going down, the Wolves kept their defensive intensity up. Way up. The result was an easy 90-75 victory over Orlando at Target Center. And, just like that, the Wolves have a two-game winning streak and a 3-1 record, with injured stars Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio still wearing suits on the bench.

"We got off to a good start defensively last year," said Wolves guard Luke Ridnour, who led all scorers with 19 points. "But this year it's better. Guys are in the right places. This is not so much individual defense, it's all team defense. Everybody is helping each other."

It shows.

If it was the bench that led the charge back in Brooklyn on Monday, it was the starting unit Wednesday that set the tone, building a 25-12 lead after one quarter. That's when things started to go awry for the Wolves. They missed their first 11 shots of the second quarter, not getting a field goal until reserve guard Alexey Shved drove the lane with 5:52 left in the half. The ball stopped moving, the turnovers rose, the shots clanked.

And it didn't matter.

Because Orlando was being harassed into a 28-for-80 shooting night. The Magic entered the game with a 2-1 record based on offense; Orlando was fifth in scoring (103.3 points per game), eighth in field-goal percentage (46.6) and third in three-point shooting (48.9). On Wednesday the Magic scored 75 points on 35 percent shooting and was 3-for-12 from beyond the arc. The Wolves, who entered the game second in the league in blocks (8.7), picked up nine more.

And so the Wolves never lost the lead, and anyone watching never got the feeling they would.

Minnesota's lead was cut to seven at 62-55 after J.J. Redick hit a jumper with 1:09 left in the third quarter. But J.J. Barea fed Greg Stiemsma for three consecutive hoops to push the lead to 68-55 entering the fourth. The Wolves stretched their lead to 20 early in the fourth and cruised home.

But their defense never let up. With the game all but over in the closing seconds, Stiemsma hustled for his second block of the night and the team's ninth.

In all, six Wolves had five or more rebounds, four had three or more assists, three had two blocked shots and eight players had at least one steal.

"Defense is all effort," forward Andrei Kirilenko said. "Of course, you have to understand the defense, all that, blah, blah, blah. But it's effort. It's everybody trying to get your man, trying to help each other. That's how this works. I think as a team, we are on that page."

And, the Wolves said, just wait until the offense starts clicking the same way. As it is, the team is off to its first 3-1 start since the 2001-02 season, and it ended a seven-game losing streak to the Magic. All of the team's three victories have been by double digits.

But, it seems, somebody new provides the push in each game.

"The second team was great in Brooklyn, and tonight the first group in the first quarter was terrific and the second group couldn't do anything," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "When we put it together and get both groups playing the same, we will be fine."

  • WOLVES 90, ORLANDO 75

    Up next: 7 p.m. Friday vs. Indiana • Target Center • TV: Ch. 29 (830-AM)

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Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 31 2nd Qtr 8:03
Cleveland 32
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
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San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
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South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
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Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 72 2nd Half 1:16
St Johns 65
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 31 2nd Half 17:10
Butler 34
NJIT 37 2nd Half 14:55
South Alabama 40
Northern Iowa 6 1st Half 15:35
Illinois State 4
Louisville 16 1st Half 12:22
Pittsburgh 10
Niagara 3:30 PM
Iona
UMBC 3:40 PM
Albany
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
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Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
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Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
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Coll of Charleston 53
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Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 50 2nd Half 4:39
Xavier 52
Creighton 34 2nd Half 20:00
Marquette 35
Providence 18 2nd Half
DePaul 49
Northeastern 35 2nd Half 16:32
Elon 45
(2) Connecticut 71 2nd Half 12:18
Cincinnati 21
Oregon 42 2nd Half 12:46
Arizona 42
Bradley 19 2nd Half
Loyola-Chicago 23
NC State 29 2nd Half 20:00
(23) Syracuse 26
(7) Maryland 47 2nd Half
Indiana 29
Illinois State 20 2nd Half 19:01
Missouri State 30
Colorado 9 1st Half 16:45
Washington St 3
Tulane 7 1st Half 14:12
South Florida 8
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Missouri 10
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(13) Arizona State 11
Vermont 3:30 PM
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Iowa State 3:30 PM
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(4) Louisville
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(25) Rutgers
California 5:00 PM
UCLA
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