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


Last Meeting:

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.


Team Bios:

Minnesota Timberwolves: 29-50

Points per game: 95.7 (20th) Points allowed: 98.2 (15th)

Full team statistics.

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)

Full team statistics.

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.

Time: 5:00 pm MST TV: FSAZ Three more games and the 2012-13 season is just a bad memory for the Phoenix Suns. Three more games, and this team can begin to move forward; something it hasn’t really...

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As a long time fan of the Phoenix Suns I hate the Los Angeles Lakers. By Transitive Property of Sporting Hate, that easily extends Kobe Bean Bryant with all his jaw jutting, lip pouting, (alleged) Colorado crime escaping, shot making, foul taking, and jersey sucking ways. And now, he's been felled by a (probable) torn Achilles.

But it's Kobe so even in horrific injury he's still breaking our hearts.

But let's face it, that mutha-fracker can flat out ball. He defines the phrase "Iron Will" and when there was a whisper of a chance the Suns might have hope to sign him in 2004 we were all crossing our fingers that he would come to Phoenix. We got a pretty decent consolation prize with Two Time MVP Steve Nash -- but still no rings. And Kobe means rings.

So now we only hate him a little bit more for the signing that never happened (and probably never had a snow ball's chance in Phoenix to happen in the first place).

For the first time in his 17-year career, Kobe is down with a serious injury. He says he'll be back so he will be back. But even Kobe in an EPIC 3am pain pilled induced Facebook rant isn't exactly sure what that means.

In the mean time, there's the very real issue of the Lakers making or missing the playoffs and the Suns getting or not getting their lottery pick. Here's where that stands.

- Kobe went down with only three minutes left in the game Friday night against the Warriors. (Because, of course, he couldn't go down earlier in the game and perhaps help the Suns just a bit more.)

- The Lakers squeaked out that win thanks in no small part to a HUGE 50-16 discrepancy in free throw attempts. Thanks, David Stern!

- (I don't really believe in NBA officiating conspiracy theories, but how many times in recent weeks have the Lakers gotten ALL THE CALLS?)

- The Jazz also won at home, beating the T-Wolves but they are now full game behind the Lakers.

- The Lakers have two games left, both at home: Sunday vs the Spurs and Wednesday vs the Rockets.

- The Jazz have two games left, both on the road: Monday at Minnesota and Wednesday in Memphis.

- The Jazz have the tie-breaker, but thanks to their own inability to not suck, need to find one extra win than the Lakers in the next two games. Even if the Lakers drop both games, the Jazz still need to win one and I have no confidence in their ability to do that.

So, that sets up Kobe's final revenge on the Suns. If his injury comes a week earlier, or perhaps even an hour earlier, the Suns chances of getting that extra pick are much greater.

But it's Kobe so even in horrific injury he's still breaking our hearts.

Get well soon?

Yeah, at the end of the day, the NBA is a better place with Kobe in it so despite my legal obligation to hate him...I'm not ready to see him go.

There’s no rule book on being a bad NBA team. It’s one reason for the ongoing discussion of tanking being a legitimate option or a sorry excuse for what used to be called...

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The flirtation with the concept of a "Super Team" has consumed sports over the years, dating back to the New York Yankees (forever), to the mid-2000's Los Angeles Lakers, and to the present day NBA. Some have tried and failed while others have succeeded, but the process is fascinating, which is what makes the 2013 Phoenix Mercury a must watch for basketball fans in general.

In large-part that is due to the re-signing of forward DeWanna Bonner creating, for the Mercury, an in house super team with tremendous potential.

"We are thrilled to re-sign DeWanna and keep our core group intact for the next several years," said Mercury President and Chief Operating Officer Amber Cox. "We expect DB to be a cornerstone of this franchise for years to come."

Per team policy the terms of the deal were not disclosed other than the "multi-year deal" part which ensures that Bonner will join Candice Dupree, Samantha Prahalis, Penny Taylor, and of course All-World star Diana Taurasi. That onslaught alone is a championship worthy team or at the very least in the conversation. Taurasi, Taylor, and Dupree have all played at an all-star level throughout their careers, after last season they have added a fourth star to that group with a potential fifth star on the way.

The addition of the No. 1 Overall pick (likely between Brittney Griner, Elle Della Donne, or Skylar Diggins) and this is a ceiling-less team.

Make no mistake; Bonner became a star last year.


She was asked to carry the load and did that and more. Last season was a season of tough losses through injuries, but was more about the ascension of Bonner as she eclipsed her career-highs in points (20.6), rebounds (7.2), assists (2.2), steals (1.7), free-throws (5.75-6.75 per game), three-point shooting (52 made), and total field goals (212 made) showing her full and diverse overall game.

Offensively the workload will not be solely on the shoulders of Bonner next year as it was this past season. The most important fact is that she is capable of carrying the load for the entire season.

The offensive balance pacing the ball with the four potent scorers will be a gift and a curse for Head Coach Corey Gaines as he will have to sell the team concept to his stars while translating it to the court.

With this group that should not be a problem.

Taurasi is the most selfless star in the game while Taylor is used to being a second option, Dupree has done the dirty work, and Bonner is comfortable with her previous role as the super sub off of the bench.

Unlike other "Super Teams" this team has collectively played together in the past, but has evolved with Bonner and will continue that evolution with the addition of the No. 1 pick in this year's draft.


This team can be as good as its collective parts acceptance their slightly reduced roles to make the team a better overall team.

Bonner is the x-factor and the key to how great this team can be. An accepted role coming off the bench as the torch is passed to her as the new face of the team could result in championships as the veterans' transition out. Championships.

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