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Gameday preview: Minnesota Timberwolves at Orlando Magic, 7 p.m.

The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t pushovers anymore. Just ask the Orlando Magic, who lost to them in Minneapolis in early November. The Magic arguably are a better team now. But how much better? Tonight should provide a clue.

WHERE: Amway Center.

TV: Fox Sports Florida. RADIO: 96.5 FM (WDBO), 580 AM (WDBO). SPANISH BROADCAST — ElOrlandoMagic.com.

Records
Timberwolves: 12-9
Magic: 10-13

Projected Timberwolves starters
PG Luke Ridnour (6-2/173)
SG Alexey Shved (6-6/188)
SF Andrei Kirilenko (6-9/234)
PF Kevin Love (6-10/253)
C Nikola Pekovic (6-11/281)

Projected Magic starters
PG Jameer Nelson (6-0/190)
SG Arron Afflalo (6-5/215)
SF Maurice Harkless (6-8/210)
PF Glen Davis (6-9/289)
C Nik Vucevic (7-0/240)

Injuries
• For Minnesota, Love (flu) is listed as probable. Small forward Josh Howard (hyperextended right knee) is listed as doubtful. Small forward Chase Budinger (left knee surgery), shooting guard Brandon Roy (right knee surgery) and shooting guard Malcolm Lee (hyperextended right knee) won’t play.

• For Orlando, small forward Hedo Turkoglu (broken hand) and power forward Al Harrington (knee) won’t play.

Referees
Ken Mauer
Bennie Adams
Mark Ayotte

Reasons to watch
• The Magic are only three games under .500, and apart from tonight’s game, the upcoming schedule — which includes a pair of games against the lowly Washington Wizards and a pair of games against the Toronto Raptors — should give the Magic a chance to even their record.

• The Timberwolves are in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, and they’re fun to watch. They’re even more fun to watch now that point guard Ricky Rubio has returned after nine months away following reconstructive surgery on his left knee. Rubio is one of the sport’s most entertaining point guards.

• And Love is one of the game’s best power forwards.

The last time
The Magic were playing the second game of a back-to-back on Nov. 7, when they faced the Timberwolves in Minneapolis. But, still, the Magic didn’t have much of an excuse for the way they played. Minnesota controlled the game from beginning to end and led by as many as 15 points in the first quarter and 27 points in the fourth quarter. Five Minnesota players scored in double figures, led by Ridnour, who scored a game-high 19 points. Love didn’t play in that game because he was recovering from a broken hand. Nelson didn’t play because of groin and hamstring strains.

Timberwolves scouting report
The Timberwolves have won four consecutive games, including a 114-106 overtime victory Saturday night over the Dallas Mavericks in Minnesota. Love missed the game because of flu, but Rubio played in his first game since his knee injury. Rubio is playing under a minutes restriction, and he scored eight points and dished out nine assists as he committed just two turnovers. . . . Love is averaging 19.4 points and 13.7 rebounds, but he’s still trying to regain his shooting touch after his hand injury. He’s made only 20.7 percent of his 3-point attempts in his 11 games back. . . . The Wolves draw a lot of shooting fouls. They average 27.3 free-throw attempts per game, third-highest in the league. . . . Meanwhile, their opponents take relatively few foul shots, averaging just 19.7 attempts per game.

Key matchup
Love vs. Davis. Big Baby scored 20 points on 7-of-11 shooting in the Magic’s 107-98 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Saturday night. He’ll have a difficult challenge keeping Love off the offensive boards, and Love’s ability to stretch the floor — his recent shooting woes notwithstanding — could force Davis to defend farther from the hoop than usual.

Did you know?
Pekovic and Vucevic hail from Montenegro and are good friends.

Josh Robbins covers the Orlando Magic and the NBA for the Orlando Sentinel. You can reach him via e-mail at jbrobbins@tribune.com and connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/JoshuaBRobbins. Follow him on Twitter at @JoshuaBRobbins.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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