MINNEAPOLIS — From the frying pan and into the fire.
That's an accurate description of the early stages of the Orlando Magic's 2013-14 regular season.
One night after they lost to the Indiana Pacers, the Magic faced the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday night at Target Center.
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The NBA's schedule-makers started Orlando with a pair of back-to-back games — a tough test for any team but especially difficult for a young, relatively inexperienced team like the Magic.
"This is wonderful, absolutely wonderful," coach Jacque Vaughn said, a smile on his face, without any sarcasm before tipoff Wednesday. "A good challenge for our guys. This is what it's about. Everyone has a schedule. It just so happens ours starts off with a back-to-back and home openers for two teams."
Last season, the Magic posted a 4-9 record in the first games of back-to-backs and a 3-10 record in the second games of back-to-backs.
But, in a sense, the 3-10 record on the second nights was even worse than it first appears. In two of those victories, the Magic had Arron Afflalo, Glen Davis, Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick playing key roles, and those seasoned NBA veterans steadied the team. The Magic struggled in second-night games after Davis suffered injuries and the team traded Redick.
Afflalo recently was asked to describe the Magic's approach in back-to-backs last season.
"I don't remember," he said. "It couldn't have been that great, right? We've done a lot of conditioning this preseason, so hopefully our stamina — and, more importantly, our mental attitude — towards a back-to-back game will be there on that second night."
The Timberwolves were well-rested entering Wednesday.
The young Magic, who arrived in Minneapolis from Indianapolis at 12:10 a.m. Wednesday, better get used to the schedule's rigors.
After they had 13 pairs of back-to-backs last season, they have a total of 18 pairs this season.
Rookie Victor Oladipo played two pairs of back-to-backs during his junior year at Indiana University.
When he was asked what an NBA back-to-back would be like, Oladipo responded, "Not tough because I love the game. The great thing about the NBA is if I was in college, you'd have to wait two more weeks to play another game. Here, in less than 24 hours, you're playing again, so it's the beauty of the NBA, and I'm just fortunate enough to be in it."
Backup guard Doron Lamb worked out with Magic physical therapist Ron Weathers on Target Center's game court before tipoff to strengthen his right ankle, which Lamb sprained in early October.
"My ankle's feeling way better," said Lamb, who missed the entire preseason because of the injury.
"I've never had a sprain like this before, but things happen for a reason. I'll keep rehabbing and getting it back and game-ready."
• Like the Magic, the Timberwolves this year are celebrating their 25th season. Both teams began playing in the 1989-90 season.
• Vaughn praised Jason Maxiell for his defense Tuesday night against Pacers power forward David West. "One of the best jobs I've seen of guarding David West," Vaughn said. "His ability to be physical but be smart at the same time — a great lesson for our guys to see a grizzled veteran being able to do it and play physical, get rebounds and not worry about scoring."