The Suns sprinted out of the gate with Wesley Johnson scoring the Suns' first seven points. The lead ballooned to 24-14 before the Wolves clawed back to within six to end the period. Johnson led all scorers with 11 points. Scola grabbed seven of Phoenix's ten rebounds. Ricky Rubio got the early edge in the point guard battle with eight points, four assists and three steals. Score: Suns 28, Timberwolves 22
The Suns maintained a tenuous grip on the lead in the second quarter, with Minnesota attempting to chip away with J.J. Barea, seven points, as the catalyst for their offense. Scola helped the Suns from relinquishing their lead with eight points in the quarter. Minnesota managed to tie the game at 50 after a frenetic sequence of events that was equal parts pandemonium and poor judgment, but Markieff Morris ended the half with a three pointer to give the Suns back the lead going into intermission. Score: Suns 53, Timberwolves 50
The point guard matchup at the half:
Dragic - 4 points (1-5), 9 assists, 2 steals, 0 turnovers
Rubio - 13 points (6-11), 4 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals, 2 turnovers
The slight nod goes to Rubio.
Luis Scola led the Suns in points (12) and all players in rebounds (8), but committed SIX turnovers. This prodigal nature led to a 14-6 deficiency in the turnover department for Phoenix. Despite outshooting the Wolves 55.6% (20-36) to 42.6% (20-47) the extra possessions Minnesota garnered from the Suns carelessness allowed them to keep pace. Here's another fun tidbit: The Suns had less points in the paint (14) than the Wolves had fast break points (15).
Minnesota regained the lead from the Suns early in the third period at 60-59. It was their first lead since 5-4 in the game's opening minutes. The teams then began bartering buckets for the next several minutes before Minnesota was able to take a four point edge headed into the final quarter. Derrick Williams dropped eight to lead the Wolves surge, while Markieff went for seven to build on a solid game with 17 points and eight rebounds through three quarters. The Suns continued to be plagued by turnovers, with eight more in the period, as total for the game bulged to 22. Score: Timberwolves 77, Suns 73
Minnesota began to open up the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, taking a 90-80 lead. The Suns tried valiantly to fight back and got within six (94-88) on a breakaway layup by Dragic, but couldn't get any closer as Rubio helped the Wolves seal the deal with nine consecutive points down the stretch. The Suns managed just seven points in the final 6:15 as they fell short. Final Score: Timberwolves 105, Suns 93
Player of the Game:
Ricky Rubio. 24 points, 10 assists, 5 rebounds, 5 steals.
Comments of the Game:
That follow by Scola was the most acrobatic move since that one time he dunked
This game is uglier than Kirilenko's hair right now.
Wasn't Derrick Williams being shopped pretty hard?
Kind of wish the Suns got him. He has a lot of upside.
Only the Suns can get a shot clock violation after a time out
*This section has been truncated due to the Suns not being good enough to draw a strong following on the thread. Sigh.
Dragic continues to be a dynamic distributor, dropping 14 dimes as he danced around the defense. His 13 games with double digit assists since the all-star break gives him the most of any player in the league over that stretch.
Markieff Morris had a sparkling performance during a season where he's had a dearth of such games. Markieff led the Suns in scoring (20) and rebounds (9), but also contributed four to the turnoverfest.
The Suns may have been hard on the eyes tonight, but they competed... which is all you can ask for from a team that is overmatched on a nightly basis.
The Suns may as well have only suited six players for this game. Dudley was the only person off the bench who didn't have a pernicious effect on the game.
Turnovers. Turnovers. Turnovers. I guess I could type this 24 more times to reach the Suns ignominious total of 27. Scola (8) and Dragic (6) were the main culprits, combining for more than half of that total by themselves. The Suns allowed 33 points off turnovers compared to just 11 by Minnesota. Guess why the Suns lost the game...
The Suns on a Saturday night used to be a hot ticket. Not anymore. This game had a somber and funereal tone. The pace of the game may have made it more enjoyable if it wasn't for the egregiously sloppy play... especially by the Suns.
This used to be the time of year when the Suns were preparing for the postseason. Then they were fighting down the stretch to sneak in. This year the most satisfying part of the season for many fans will be when the nightmare ends with the final buzzer in Denver. Since this game was a little bit earlier, though, it can be classified as a day terror, but still encompassed under the umbrella of the Suns general suckitude.
The most entertaining part of this game was the Mario Brothers coin block sound the PA plays when Minny makes free throws... and I'm not kidding. Sigh.
When: Saturday, April 13, 2013, 5:00 PM local time (8:00 EST)
Where: Target Center, Minneapolis, MN
Watch/Listen: TV: FSAZ, Radio: 620 KTAR
The Timberwolves beat the Suns in Phoenix 117-86 on March 22nd. Minnesota leads the season series 2-0.
Minnesota made short work of Phoenix, who was unprepared for the blitzkrieg that awaited them. After the Suns were pummeled 67-39 in the first half they were never able to get any closer than 19 points in the second half as the rout ensued. The 31 point loss was the Suns biggest margin of defeat at home this season. Luis Scola led the Suns with 17 points and 12 rebounds. Andrei Kirilenko led all scorers with 20 points.
Minnesota Timberwolves: 29-50
Points per game: 95.7 (20th) Points allowed: 98.2 (15th)
At the start of the season the Timberwolves had aspirations of making the playoffs for the first time in nine seasons. NINE. Those whimsical musings were quickly derailed by a slew of injuries to major components. Nikola Pekovic, Andre Kirilenko and Ricky Rubio missed significant time and Kevin Love and Chase Budinger missed most of the season.
After a 16-16 start Minnesota stumbled to a 7-27 record in their next 34 games. After that horrific stretch, though, the Wolves have been trying to finish the season on a high note and are 6-7, despite losing their last three, in their last 13 games. 19-20 at home on the season, Minnesota can finish with a winning home record by beating the Suns and Jazz in their last two contests at the Target Center.
The Timberwolves loss last night to the Utah Jazz assures their sixth 50+ loss season in the past seven years.
Phoenix Suns: 24-55
Points per game: 94.9 (21st) Points allowed: 101.3 (25th)
The Suns broke a 10 game losing streak in their last game by stunning the Dallas Mavericks. Even in the three losses preceding the slump buster the Suns had been competitive in losses. These last three games offer Phoenix a chance to play for dignity, something they've had a paucity of this season. Even with the last impressive victory the Suns find themselves mired in a recent morass to the effect of 3-16 in their last 19 games.
Goran Dragic has had a strong second half as he has elevated his numbers to 14.7 points per game (tied for 11th among point guards) and 7.2 assists (tied for 10th) on the season. His play has been one of the few redeeming qualities in a season marked by considerable tumult and atrocious play.
What To Watch For:
Verve: 48 minutes of effort the Suns vs. the Wolves on the second night of a back to back. Minnesota played at Utah last night and had to fly home to get ready for tonight's exhilarating matchup. In the last game against Minny the Suns came out lackadaisically and got curbstomped in short order. Can the Suns capitalize on a Minnesota team hindered by lassitude?
Ricky Rubio vs. Goran Dragic: After a slow start coming off an injury, Rubio has elevated his play and is averaging 13.3 points and 8.5 assists per game. Dragic has averaged 16.2 points and 8.9 assists over the same period. Goran will look to extend the 22 year old wunderkind's indoctrination into the league with dominating play tonight.
2013 Lottery Watch
The Suns come into their game against the Wolves at fourth in the lottery standings by virtue of Cleveland holding the tiebreaker between the teams. After tonight's game the Suns finish with a home game against Houston and at Denver. The Cavaliers have games remaining at Philadelphia, home against Miami and at Charlotte. Although the Suns are firmly entrenched in the top four, they will probably have to lose out to wrestle the third spot away from Cleveland.
The Lakers have become a horror movie villain that just won't die. Dwight Howard has struggled to regain his previous form, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol have missed considerable time, Ron Artest is playing after taking only 12 days to rehab from meniscus surgery, and now the inimitable Kobe Bryant has torn his Achilles tendon. Will that injury finally be the bane of their run for the postseason? LA has home games left against San Antonio and Houston, while the Jazz play at Minnesota and Memphis. The Jazz has the tiebreaker, but will still need to finish with a better record over these two games to overtake the Lakers. That means Utah will likely need to go 2-0 to have a chance.
The Final Word(s):
It would be nice if the Suns at least came out with a spirited effort, regardless of the results. A primer before the last home game of the season against Houston would be felicitous, and hopefully adumbrate for a season ending win for fans that have toiled through this season. In my roseate scenario, the Suns lose on a buzzer beater in overtime, giving us a photo finish while still battling Cleveland for third place.