Monday, February 13, 2012

Wolves fall to Magic; drop fourth straight

The Timberwolves lost their fourth straight game tonight in Orlando, falling to the Magic 102-89 to drop its record to 13-16 for the season.

Orlando’s superstar, Dwight Howard, produced just
11 points and seven rebounds – his season averages are 20.6 and 15.5, respectively. But that didn’t matter. Orlando found other ways to beat the Wolves, and, for the third straight game, the Wolves found ways to beat themselves.

The turnover count has continued to mount for
Minnesota. Tonight, the team’s 19 TOs doubled Orlando’s total of nine. And that’s actually (gulp) an improvement from Minnesota’s previous two games in this season-worst skid – 27, Friday vs. Dallas, 22, Saturday vs. New York.

With the turnovers (Minnesota now ranks 28th in the league) and the lack of
a solid outside shooter, the Wolves’ struggles have been ugly - to say the least. A bright spot from tonight, however, is the continued emergence of Nikola Pekovic.

Pekovic, or “Pek,” for short, is quickly becoming a fan favorite in Minnesota. Tonight, he outplayed Howard statistically; if not physically, too. The Wolves’ big man amassed 16 points and 13 rebounds against the Magic, giving him his sixth double-double of the season (all of which have occurred in his past 11 games).

With Darko Milicic’s struggles with injuries and illnesses, Pekovic has not merely stepped in; he's ascended. At 6’11”, 290 pounds, Pekovic has provided the Wolves a strong,
intimidating presence at the center position many times in recent weeks. Jostling with Howard tonight was yet another example.

Paired with Kevin Love in front court, along with Ricky Rubio engineering the team's offense, Pekovic gives
Minnesota a great chance to win. But it’s not happening lately. There’s just been too many costly turnovers, namely from Rubio (5) and J.J. Barea (7) in tonight’s loss. Of course, shooting 6-for-21 from three-point range tonight didn’t help either.

Minnesota (13-16) hopes to put a jarring halt to its losing streak Wednesday night, when the team hosts Charlotte. It should be as golden of an opportunity as it can get for the Wolves. The Bobcats trot into Target Center losers of 15 straight with a league-worst 3-25 record.

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