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Gomes' late free throws send Timberwolves past Magic

Apr 12, 2008 - 4:30 AM ORLANDO, Florida (Ticker) -- What was supposed to be a historic night in Amway Arena for the Orlando Magic turned out to be highly unfulfilling.

Ryan Gomes hit a pair of free throws with 2.9 seconds left to give the Minnesota Timberwolves their first lead of the game and send them to a 102-101 victory over the Magic on Friday.

Orlando (49-30), which has already locked up the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, was vying for their 50th win for the first time since it won a franchise-best 60 in 1996 - the last season the Magic advanced past the first round of the playoffs.

Randy Foye scored 25 points and Al Jefferson added 18 and 11 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who snapped a seven-game road skid.

"You never want another team to try and celebrate on you (for the Magic's 50 wins)," Foye said. "So, we always try to come out and be aggressive and try to spoil your party."

The Magic led by as many as nine points with 4:22 remaining but could manage just one basket down the stretch as Minnesota turned to Foye, Jefferson and Rashad McCants.

"Their guards destroyed us," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "We couldn't play Foye (25 points) or McCants. That's troubling with the guys we're going to play in the first round of the playoffs."

With Orlando going just 1-of-7 in the late going, the Timberwolves outscored the Magic, 10-2, to pull to within one on a 3-pointer by McCants with 1:16 left in the game.

Both teams came up empty in their next two possessions before Minnesota got off three shots in the final seconds, the last of which led to Dwight Howard's foul on Gomes with two seconds remaining.

Gomes calmly sank both of his free-throw attempts and, after a timeout, Orlando turned to Hedo Turkoglu, who had a clean look at a 3-pointer but missed badly to the right.

"I knew it was bad at that time, but I tried to get a little space and take the best shot," Turkoglu said. "And it was kind of a bad shot. But we should take care of our business. Things like that shouldn't come down to the last-second shot."

The finish left Van Gundy with a sinking feeling as he heads off to Chicago for the next game.

"I have no idea of what to expect," Van Gundy said. "I told them (our players) afterwards I fully expect we'll go into Sunday (Chicago) very overconfident and with low energy. If New York (Sunday's 100-90 loss) didn't get your attention to last beyond one game, then this (loss) will not.

"I thought we'd made some strides in the Chicago game, but evidently not."

Howard wasn't happy either.

"It's over with," Howard said. "It's frustrating that we lost, but we'll come back the next game and be ready."

Howard had 20 points and 14 rebounds for his league-best 68th double-double of the season - tying Shaquille O'Neal's franchise record - while Turkoglu added 23 and seven assists for the Magic.

If Howard were to hit double-figure points and rebounds in each of his team's final four contests, he would finish one double-double behind former Houston Rockets' great Hakeem Olajuwon for the most in a season with 71.

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    Timberwolves 92, Magic 99  4th - 2:55Apr 11 9:12 PM

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