The Northwest Division-leading Minnesota Timberwolves host the Orlando Magic tonight in a battle of somewhat unlikely 2-1 teams.
The Timberwolves split a two-game road trip, but finished on a high note when they overcame a 22-point deficit in Brooklyn to beat the Nets. It was the largest comeback for the T-Wolves organization since early 1998.
"They were getting everything they wanted in the first half," said Chase Budinger, who tallied 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting Monday. "They were pushing us around, bullying us. So we came into halftime and coach gave us a good speech and we just brought it in the second half, a lot of energy, and we weren't going to let them bully us anymore. That's what happened. We started bullying them."
Minnesota scored 60 second-half points and held the Nets to 34, including a dismal 10 points in the final frame.
Nikola Pekovic led the way with 21 points, but the venerable Andrei Kirilenko had his usual stat line - 16 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, four blocks and a steal. Kirilenko is second on the team in scoring, leads the squad in rebounding, assists, minutes played and shares top honors in blocks.
The Magic suffered their first loss of the season last night, a 99-93 setback against the Chicago Bulls. Without starters Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu, the Magic were outscored by eight in the fourth quarter and fell in their first road contest of the early season.
"It reinforces how we have to play basketball. We can't play one-and-one basketball," said head coach Jacque Vaughn. "The ball started to stick a little and the ball didn't move as much as we needed to."
Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic had matching 16-point, 10-rebound nights, but Arron Afflalo, the big piece the Magic got in return for Dwight Howard this past offseason, shined Tuesday night with 28 points, five boards and five assists.
The Magic only committed 12 turnovers against the Bulls, one of the best defensive teams in recent seasons, but Orlando only forced nine turnovers from Chicago.
The Magic have won the last seven meetings against the Timberwolves and five straight in Minnesota.