Get 'em, Robin!

It wasn't pretty but it got the job done. Here's some of my quick thoughts recorded forever on the YouTube along with postgame video from Steve Nash and Grant Hill.

Apologies for the way the video looks. Chalk that up to user error. With all this equipment and stuff I'm like one of those monkeys trying to play a drum and dance at the same time and doing neither well.

Postgame quotes from Gentry, Nash, Hill and Rubio after the jump for those who want to read instead of watch.

  • "He was great. Grant is so tough and gives you so much energy and passion and leadership, let alone his formidable skill on both ends of the court. He was great and we needed every bit of him tonight," Nash said about Hill.
  • "It was rebounding and it was trying to play without fouling. I think that you have to adapt. When officials are calling it close, you can't be as physical. We have to do a better job in the first half of reading how the officials are calling the game. Once we did adjust and adapt we came out and had good energy," Hill said.
  • "We had depth off the bench. I thought Shannon (Brown) was great, I thought Robin (Lopez) was big. That's how we have to play. Play hard, play together, use our depth and fight for 48 minutes," Hill said.
  • "I thought we played well, we did a really good job. I was probably most proud of the way we handled the rebound. They still ended up with 16 (offensive) rebounds and a couple of them just took bad bounces and we couldn't get our hands on (them)," Gentry said
  • "The starters played well. Grant (Hill) was really exceptional. The bench played well. Shannon Brown did a good job for us. Sebastian (Telfair) did a good job. Markieff did a good job defensively and staying in front of guys," Gentry said.
  • "He's one of the best players ever and you always try to be close to them. He knows how to play, he's smart and like I said, he's one of the best ever. He knows how to control the game and he passes very well, which option he has to find for the team and he just runs it and does it," Rubio said about Nash.
  • "It was great to play against him and see first hand what type of player he is. He definitely lives up to billing. Very, very good player, clever, and plays with a great energy," Nash said about Rubio.

And for you UA Wildcat / Derrick Williams fans, we caught up with him before the game too:

Derrick Williams Talks Arizona Wildcats And His Impact On The Program - SB Nation Arizona
Maybe everything would have worked out in a few seasons, but few players can impact a program in two years the way the once-unranked lanky kid out of La Mirada High School did. He gave everything he had to Sean Miller and his teammates and it paid off for all parties involved.

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Robin Lopez played strong defense tonight. And also, there's a lot of hair in this picture.

The Phoenix Suns had a great shooting night, all five starters scored in double figures including a season-high 20 from Grant Hill, and Steve Nash dished 17 assists to go with his 13 points as the Suns started the second half of their season with an impressive 104-95 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, their ninth in a row over Minnesota.

Kevin Love returned from missing last night's game due to illness to lead the Wolves with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic went for 14 and 9 as the Wolves dropped their second in a row on the final game of their back to back to back west coast swing.

As much as a mid-season game can be a "must win", this was for the Suns. They had a few players rise to the challenge, most notably Hill and Shannon Brown, and dominated the Wolves in the second half, outscoring the Wolves by 14.

Read on for more of the happy details!

Shannon Brown got minutes tonight rather than Michael Redd as the Suns tried to better match up with the young, athletic Wolves, and Brown played well, scoring 12 points on 6-11 shooting. Early foul trouble for Channing Frye and Markieff Morris allowed Hakim Warrick to see some action as well. He threw down a ferocious slam late in the first half but did little else in his 8 minutes of action.

Poor 3-point shooting from the Wolves might have been the result of playing their third night in a row as they hit only 1-13, helping the Suns cause tremendously. The Wolves also seemed to run out of gas a bit in the second half which, coupled with some tenacious defense from the Suns, led to them scoring only 44 second half points.

The Suns, meanwhile, connected on 53% of their FGs and 38% of their 3s in an efficient offensive performance that was marred only by 16 TOs. Nash spread the ball around in a masterful effort as he and five of his teammates each took at least 10 shots but none more than his 13.

Game Notes

  • Nikola Pekovic is a huge, powerful player at 6'11 and 290, and he has some good footwork for a big man. The Wolves have found another solid piece for their emerging team. But that didn't stop Grant Hill from stuffing Pekovic for a jump ball late in the 4th.
  • Eddie Johnson really dislikes Martell Webster's hair, spending a good chunk of the first half mocking it. EJ was on top of his game tonight and when he said to Tom Leander, "this is why I don't like you", he didn't sound like was kidding.
  • Robin Lopez scored 0 points on 1 FGA but made a nice contribution with 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and solid overall play in his 13 minutes of action.
  • Ricky Rubio had only 2 assists, scoring 13 points on 3-7 from the field as Nash showed that the comparisons between Rubio and him are entirely premature.
  • Kevin Love needed 25 FGAs to get his 23 points, and committed 4 TOs. He showed his usual hustle and grit but he looked like his illness was lingering as he was an inefficient player tonight.
  • Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams, two former #2 overall draft picks who are capable of offensive outbursts, combined for only 9 points on 3-15 shooting.

Final - 3.1.2012 1 2 3 4 Total
Minnesota Timberwolves 23 28 23 21 95
Phoenix Suns 22 24 31 27 104

Complete Coverage >

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PHOENIX — The Phoenix Suns’ shooting was red hot. Their defense strengthened as Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves wore on. They even dominated the boards for the...

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Phoenix Suns 104, Minnesota Timberwolves 95 PHOENIX — Two weeks. That’s all the Phoenix Suns have until the March 15 trade deadline, when it’ll be perfectly clear if Steve Nash is...

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Grant Hill is having the worst shooting season of his career so far. Let's hope he can turn it around in the second half.

The Phoenix Suns start the second half of their season after a week long break, facing a Minnesota Timberwolves team that will be playing its third game in three nights, having beaten the Clippers on Tuesday night and losing to the Lakers last night. Kevin Love, the Wolves' leading scorer and rebounder, missed last night's game with "flu-like symptoms" and his status for tonight is uncertain.

The 14-20 Suns have little time left to go on a run if they hope to contend for a playoff spot, as they sit in the 13th spot in the West. Their best chance to make up ground will be in their next 11 games, 9 of which are at home, and tonight provides an opportunity for the Suns to gain a game on a team ahead of them in the standings, as the Wolves are currently 10th in the West at 18-18.

A rested Suns team at home facing an improved but still mediocre Wolves squad which has played the two previous nights and might be missing its best player? Talk about being set up for success!

Will the Suns be able to take advantage of this opportunity?

The Timberwolves starting unit struggled to score without Love last night, as the Lakers starters buried them in the 1st and 3rd quarters to win easily 105-84. Michael Beasley and Martell Webster were their leading scorers with 14 each. Beasley and rookie UofA product Derrick Williams figure to get the most additional playing time and scoring opportunities should Love not be able to play tonight. J.J. Barea is also a question mark after he played only 10 minutes due to a strained calf last night.

Love and Ricky Rubio are the emerging players featured by the Wolves who have been most responsible for the team's improvement from league doormat to team in the playoff hunt, but second year Montenegrin center Nikola Pekovic has been a revelation for the Wolves as well. He's started the last 13 games, averaging a double-double and pushing former Pistons draft bust Darko Milicic further into irrelevancy. The Gortat-Pekovic matchup isn't as glamorous as the Nash-Rubio matchup, but will be about as important to the outcome of the game.

Last season, the Suns swept their three games against Minnesota, scoring over 100 in each including outputs of 135 and 128, but the Wolves have improved from 27th to 14th in defensive rating under their new head coach Rick Adelman, now higher than the Suns (D'OH!). Love or no Love, this won't be an easy game.

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Kevin Love 33 39.5 7.9 17.9 44.3 1.5 4.3 34.3 7.2 8.6 83.4 4.1 9.7 13.8 1.9 2.7 1.0 0.5 2.8 24.5
Michael Beasley 25 25.8 5.2 11.8 44.1 0.9 2.1 44.2 1.5 2.4 63.3 1.0 4.3 5.3 1.0 1.8 0.5 0.4 1.8 12.8
Nikola Pekovic 27 24.3 5.0 8.7 57.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 2.4 3.0 79.0 4.1 3.0 7.1 0.5 2.1 0.7 0.7 2.3 12.4
Luke Ridnour 34 31.2 4.2 9.6 44.3 0.9 2.8 32.3 1.7 1.9 86.4 0.3 2.2 2.5 3.6 1.5 1.0 0.3 2.5 11.1
Ricky Rubio 36 34.4 3.5 9.6 36.3 0.8 2.4 34.9 3.0 3.7 80.6 0.4 3.9 4.3 8.4 3.3 2.3 0.2 2.3 10.8
J.J. Barea 20 20.1 3.2 8.5 37.9 1.1 3.0 35.0 2.6 3.0 86.4 0.4 2.1 2.4 3.2 1.9 0.4 0.0 1.3 10.0
Derrick Williams 36 18.9 2.9 6.3 46.0 0.5 1.6 32.1 1.6 2.5 65.2 1.2 3.1 4.3 0.5 1.0 0.4 0.4 1.3 7.9
Anthony Randolph 19 12.5 2.4 4.7 50.6 0.0 0.1 0.0 1.4 1.9 73.0 1.1 1.8 2.8 0.2 0.9 0.4 0.5 1.5 6.2
Martell Webster 17 18.1 2.2 5.3 41.1 0.6 2.1 30.6 0.9 1.4 69.6 0.4 1.8 2.2 0.4 0.8 0.6 0.4 1.8 5.9
Wesley Johnson 35 21.7 2.4 6.3 37.9 0.6 2.5 22.7 0.3 0.6 57.1 0.4 2.4 2.7 0.8 1.1 0.5 0.5 1.7 5.7
Wayne Ellington 28 16.6 1.9 5.1 37.8 0.6 1.7 33.3 0.5 0.6 77.8 0.2 1.3 1.5 0.5 0.3 0.5 0.2 0.8 4.9
Darko Milicic 25 16.5 2.0 4.6 44.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.6 1.3 45.5 1.3 2.3 3.6 0.6 1.1 0.3 1.0 2.0 4.7
Anthony Tolliver 27 16.7 1.0 3.0 34.1 0.5 1.9 25.5 0.9 1.1 76.7 0.9 1.8 2.7 0.3 0.6 0.3 0.4 1.6 3.4
Brad Miller 6 6.7 0.2 1.0 16.7 0.2 0.2 100.0 0.8 1.0 83.3 0.0 0.5 0.5 0.8 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.5 1.3

When we last saw the Suns, they lost a very winnable game to the Golden State Warriors, getting off to a slow start behind an unusually poor outing from Steve Nash (5 TOs to go with only 7 points and 9 assists) and losing a heartbreaker in the end. Head coach Alvin Gentry voiced his displeasure with the Suns performance in a rant that seemed to represent the frustrations of a half-season of lost opportunities and uneven Suns effort.

Whether Gentry's outburst or the All-Star break will have any impact on the Suns performance as they start play again this week remains to be seen. The clock is ticking on the Suns' chances for this season. Getting off to a fast start with a win tonight after their hiatus will be critical.

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