Alexander Shun | @alexpshun
Digital Content Manager | KFAN.com
The Minnesota Timberwolves were forced to grind on Monday night. If they wanted to beat the Orlando Magic and win their second-straight game, they were going to have to work for it, The young Timberwolves squad answered the call, earning a 111-105 overtime victory during which they admittedly did not play their best basketball.
"Yeah I thought we labored through the game, so we were low energy to start" Timberwolves head coach Tom Thibodeau said after the game. "I thought in the end, we made mistakes but we still found a way to win, so that was a positive."
Andrew Wiggins - or "Maple Jordan," as some of you may know him - led Minnesota with 27 points, three rebounds and five assists including a huge 21-foot jumper to tie the game at 98 with just 10 seconds remaining. Wiggins second clutch shot in the last week, the other being a game-winning, buzzer-beating shot against Phoenix.
"My teammates trust me to put the ball in the basket when it counts," Wiggins said. "That's what I did."
The third-year pro was aided by a complete performance from Ricky Rubio.
The Spaniard added 22 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and he made a career-high six three-pointers, including a spectacular three in a row to fuel a Minnesota run in the third quarter that brought the Target Center crowd to their feet.
Rubio entered the game shooting a dismal 24 percent from beyond the arc but finished the night 6-of-9 from deep.
His teammates, while impressed, were not surprised about Rubio's ability to hit the open threes.
"He was hitting it. He's been shooting the ball great," Wiggins said of Rubio. "If people continue to go under, he's going to continue to punish them."
The Magic continued to leave Rubio open and the sixth-year guard punished them for it.
Orlando was led by Elfrid Payton who dropped 21 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals on Minnesota only to see his team fall short.
"It's very frustrating," Payton said after the game. "It's a tough one to take in."
Orlando's big men Serge Ibaka and Nikola Vucevic combined for 30 points, 21 rebounds, seven assists and three blocked shots in the loss.
Minnesota has now won eight of their last 11 games which includes six of their last seven games on their home floor. The team now sits just three games out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and have nine remaining games before the All-Star break.
The Timberwolves will have a great opportunity to prove they are legitimate Wednesday night when they take on LeBron James, former Timberwolf Kevin Love and the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland.