8:00 PM ET, January 1, 2010
Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
MINNEAPOLIS -- Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy moved Matt Barnes into the Magic's starting lineup this week primarily because of the energy he brings. He runs the floor hard, defends and attacks the backboard.
Basically, Barnes is the antithesis of the rest of the Magic starters.
On Friday night in Orlando's 106-94 victory over Minnesota, Barnes showed just how valuable some grit and effort can be. Because even with the Timberwolves holding both Dwight Howard and Vince Carter to below-average scoring nights, Orlando was still able to snap a three-game road losing streak.
Barnes, who also started Wednesday in a victory over Milwaukee, reached double figures for the second straight game, finishing with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. And it wasn't because the Magic, who have won five of six overall, suddenly started running plays for him.
"I just ran the floor, they weren't getting back," said Barnes, who signed with Orlando over the summer. "Jameer [Nelson] found me, [Jason Williams] found me.
"I'm not looking to get 20 a night. We have Dwight, we have Vince, we have a lot of guys who can do a lot of things. To be able to go out and play hard helps our team."
That mentality of not gauging success by points scored or shots taken is part of reason why Van Gundy made the switch and moved Mickael Pietrus to the bench.
"He's the only guy on our team that runs, first of all," Van Gundy said. "Nobody else will run, they jog. He's different than our other guys because he cuts and he will rebound the ball all the time. He does a lot of things that our other perimeter players don't do. He gives us a totally different look, I think he complements our other guys really well and I thought he was very, very good tonight."
That was crucial with Howard being limited to nine points and Carter being held to 12. The two entered the game averaging a combined 36.5 points per game.
"I'm just glad he's out there playing the way he's playing," Howard said about Barnes. "He doesn't care about points, he just cares about getting out there and playing."
Barnes scored all of his points in the first three quarters, keeping the Magic in the game until shots started to fall in the fourth.
Orlando led 73-71 after three quarters and the Timberwolves took a brief 77-75 lead when Wayne Ellington hit a 3-pointer with 10:06 to play.
But the Magic responded by making threes on its next four offensive possessions, three by Ryan Anderson. The final 3-pointer in the stretch gave Orlando an 87-81 lead with 7:56 to play. Anderson, who entered the game averaging 9.3 points, made four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points.
Orlando, which leads the NBA with 10 made 3-pointers per game, finished with 15 long-range jumpers against Minnesota. In the fourth quarter, the Magic made 6 of 10 3-pointers. Rashard Lewis made five 3-pointers and led the Magic with 21 points.
"I just think it's tough because the coverages," said Minnesota's Kevin Love, who finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. "We had to hit Dwight, who's 6-11 and 280, in the paint and then have to get out to a shooter like Rashard Lewis or Ryan Anderson who have very quick releases and are both 6-10. That's tough coverages. They have quick releases. They make their shots and that's tough, very tough."
Flynn, a Minnesota rookie, set a career high with five 3-pointers. That is the best long-range shooting performance for a Minnesota player this season. ... When Orlando plays Saturday night at Chicago, it will attempt to fare better in the second half of back-to-back games. This season the Magic are only 3-3 in those games and have lost its last two. ... Love has 11 consecutive double-doubles and has 14 in 16 games this season since coming back from a broken left hand. ... Alando Tucker, who the Timberwolves acquired from Phoenix earlier in the week, was inactive for his second consecutive game. Minnesota coach Kurt Rambis said that practice time in the upcoming week, in which the Wolves have four days between games, should help Tucker get a better grasp of the triangle offense.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||36-80 (.450)||37-86 (.430)|
|3PM-3PA||15-37 (.405)||8-18 (.444)|
|FTM-FTA||19-23 (.826)||12-16 (.750)|
|Fast Break Points||15||6|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||15 (0/0)||20 (3/0)|