Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves (along with foul trouble to Goran Dragic) gave the Phoenix Suns a bad loss at home.

The Minnesota Timberwolves came to Phoenix beaten and battered. Missing Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic and currently sitting at 10th in the Western Conference, the Wolves are a team the playoff-hopeful Suns were expected to defeat at home.

Things didn't go according to plan.

The first quarter saw a lot of offense and very little defense, as both teams lit each other up at a high pace. Fortunately for the Suns, the defense improved after the first period and was able to keep the Wolves in check...until the fourth. Adding to their fourth quarter woes was foul trouble and minor injury concern to Goran Dragic, leading to a sputtering offense at the end of the game.

What do you get when you add up bad defense, foul trouble to Dragic, a dominating performance from Kevin Love, and a career night from a struggling rookie on the opposing team? A blown 10 point lead and a bad loss at home to a sub-.500 team: 110-101.

First Quarter: A Whole Lotta Love

The main draw for this game was of course none other than future Phoenix Suns power forward Minnesota's superstar, Kevin Love. After being held to just 15 points the last time these teams met, he came out of the gates strong by scoring 14 points in the first quarter and grabbing 5 rebounds, giving his team a 34-28 lead after one. His early performance no doubt left many Suns fans drooling over dreams of Love in a Phoenix jersey.

Second Quarter: Hoping for a Good Win

After giving up 34 points to Minnesota in the first quarter, the Suns' defense tightened up a bit in the second, allowing just 21. Archie Goodwin, who was the first sub off the bench for Phoenix in the first after Gerald Green picked up two quick fouls, put on a great performance tonight. His "drive to the rim at all costs" mentality paid off well for him and for Phoenix, resulting in 10 first half points for Archie, who basically swagged all over the court in the first half:


Third Quarter: Red Hot Green

The Suns came out of halftime well and continued to play some strong defense. They held Kevin Love in check throughout the quarter and only surrendered 20 points. They also managed to score 24 in the quarter behind some stellar third-quarter play from Gerald Green. However, Phoenix didn't put as much distance between the Wolves and the as they would have liked to, and went into the fourth with a 6 point lead.

Fourth Quarter: A Dragon-less Nightmare

The Suns stretched their lead to 10 points at one point, but the Timberwolves hung around and made a push midway through the fourth quarter. Goran Dragic, who had been having a relatively quiet (but efficient) game, rolled his right ankle on a fastbreak dive at that point--the same ankle that has given him trouble a couple times this season.

The Suns and Wolves went back and fourth while Dragic received treatment in the locker room. After putting some tape on his ankle, The Dragon returned to the game and valiantly attempted to put the team on his back in a tight game. He hit two consecutive stepback jumpshots. Unfortunately, he missed his very next shot and was overly aggressive in fighting for the rebound, going over the back of Kevin Love. After a tough night of foul trouble--thanks to some quality defense and flopping from Ricky Rubio--Dragic earned his sixth and final foul and left the game.

At that point, the Suns led 95-92. They were outscored 18-6 the rest of the game, as they simply could not get their offense running without Dragic. Game over. Timberwolves win, 110-101.

Players of the Game

  • Love Actually: After having one of his worst games of the season when these teams last met, Kevin Love dominated the Suns defense tonight. He finished with 33 points, 13 rebounds and 9 assists.
  • Shabazz "I'm another role player who has a career game against the Suns" Muhammad: Shabazz Muhammad has been struggling in his rookie season, just barely managing to crack Minnesota's rotation recently due to their injury problems. Tonight, he joined the list of random role players who enjoy career nights against the Suns, finishing with 20 points and 6 rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.
  • Corey Brewer, Wide Receiver: Brewer has been Love's favorite target all year long, and tonight the duo took advantage of the Suns defense by teaming up for several easy scores. Brewer finished with 18 points on 7-9 shooting.
  • Gerald Green Machine: Green continued his stellar play of late by tallying 19 points and 6 rebounds tonight. Even though he struggled from three (1-5), he still managed to have an efficient scoring night, going 7-15 overall. Where would this team be without his scoring?
  • Chief Kieff: Markieff Morris has also been playing very well recently and continued it tonight. He was aggressive all night, and even though he missed 11 shots (9-20 from the field), he finished with 24 points by getting to the line 8 times.
  • DIsh Smith: Due to Goran Dragic's foul trouble, Ish Smith played almost 29 minutes and filled in admirably. He finished with 7 points, dIshed (see what I did there?) out 7 assists and also registered 4 steals. Unfortunately, he had a subpar fourth quarter, when the team was badly in need of some offense.
  • PJ "Bad Mother" Tucker's rebounding: PJ Tucker had a phenomenal rebounding game, corralling 16 total rebounds (8 offensive). He helped the Suns to a 50-38 edge on the boards. He was even matched up with Kevin Love at a couple points in the game when Phoenix ran a small lineup. However, Tucker's offensive game was abysmal tonight, as he shot just 2-11 from the field and displayed some questionable offensive decision-making. Simply put, Tucker really needs to curb the tunnel vision he so often gets that lead him to taking ill-advised contested drives.
Goran Dragic finished with 16 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists in just 25 minutes, as he struggled with foul trouble all night. Ricky Rubio managed to draw several fouls on Dragic (a couple of them were contraversial), and it hurt the Suns at the end of the game. The end of this game revealed what crunch-time Phoenix Suns basketball looks like without Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, so let's hope the former's ankle is fine and the latter will return sooner rather than later.

I hate to overstate the importance of one game, but this was an extremely bad loss for the Suns. This was a game (against a lottery-bound team missing two of their top three scorers) Phoenix needed to win in a tough Western Conference, and absolutely should have. The fact that they let a 10 point second half lead slip just makes it that much worse. The Suns are currently 8th in the West and have the Grizzlies hot on their tails. They simply can't afford to drop games like this one at this stage in the season.

Fortunately, there is a Bright Side. Goran Dragic won't foul out of every game. More importantly, Eric Bledsoe is set to return in as little as a week, providing Dragic with some much needed help. The Suns will need him for the final push to the playoffs.

They can start tomorrow by beating the Jazz in what some might now call a "must-win" game.
PHOENIX – If Kevin Love doesn’t like playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves as some questionably-sourced rumors indicate, he sure seems set on auditioning everywhere he sets foot. On Tuesday...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The Phoenix Suns try to start a new winning streak against the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at US Airways Center. Both teams had their 3-game winning streak broken in their last game, and both want to get back on the winning side.

The last time these two teams played, Gerald Green capped an improbable comeback with a last-second jumper to help the Suns escape Minnesota with a win. The Suns overcame a 7-point deficit in the final 2:44 in that one, the only bright spot on a tough road trip right after losing Eric Bledsoe to injury.

Now, the Suns host the Wolves in Phoenix on Tuesday night. The Wolves have since lost Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin to injury, though Pekovic could be activated any day now. He will test his injured ankle before tipoff in Phoenix tonight.

The Opponent

After playing the red-hot Rockets on Sunday night, the Timberwolves are downright cold. Even before suffering injuries to two starters, Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin, the Wolves had managed to lose a lot of game they should have won and still remain 6 games out of a playoff spot.

It's getting a little late in the season to expect much to change in the big picture, but the Wolves still have all the firepower they need to lay the hammer on any team any night.

The Wolves are good on offense (9th in points per possession) and defense (also 9th fewest points per possession allowed). They are 3rd in the NBA in pace, 4th in the NBA in rebounding, 3rd in free throw attempts, and they always cause more turnovers than they commit.

So how are they always under .500? Because they can't close out games and they they allow their opponent to shoot better than they do. The Wolves defensive philosophy is to allow the open shot in order to gobble up the rebound. In practice, they are 4th in defensive rebound % and commit the fewest shooting fouls, but they allow opponents to average 46.7% shooting, 28th in the league. You can just call that the opposite of the Suns defensive philosophy.

It's quite possible that Nikola Pekovic will return tonight, as he's testing his injured ankle each night before tipoff. But without Pekovic, the Wolves are no longer the same rebounding threat. Without Pekovic, the Wolves go really small and put Love at the center position with an undersized PF like Cunningham.

The Suns

After coming out with 3 gutsy wins since the All-Star break, the Suns tripped fell against the Rockets while the Dallas Mavericks managed to hold to win against the hapless Knicks last night to strengthen their hold on the 7th spot in the Western playoffs.

With Memphis breathing down the Suns necks, every game is important here on our and there's 27 left. What a race to the finish!

The Suns, let's not forget, are playing short-handed just like the Wolves. The Suns have gone 14-11 without Bledsoe after a 16-8 record with him. The Suns were missing Bledsoe in the recent comeback win over Minny.

The Stats


The Lineups


The Key Matchup

The obvious answer is All-Star Kevin Love vs. the Suns defense.

But actually, the most dangerous matchup is everyone ELSE besides Love. You can allow Kevin Love to get his 30 and 10, but you can't beat the Wolves if the rest of their guys have good games.

Suns killers Corey Brewer, Jose Juan Barea and Dante Cunningham have all been playing better recently. Picking up slack for Kevin Martin, Brewer has been posting 13.4 points and 3 rebounds per game over the past 10 games. Barea and Cunningham are putting in 20 points, 8 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game collectively (in 48 minutes). Chase Budinger has recently returned from injury and is shooting the 3 very well, and Rubio is averaging a double-double.

The Prediction

There's always the chance that the Wolves are dominant. They are truly a Jeckyl-and-Hyde team. When they win (27 times), it's by 17 points. When they lose (29 times), it's by 8 points. By contrast, the Suns average 10-point wins vs. 7-point losses.

But I think the Suns take this one. The Wolves are 9-21 against winning teams, while the Suns are 22-6 against teams below .500. Factor in the home court, and this should be a win.

Time: 7 p.m. MST TV: FSA The sight of the Phoenix Suns’ orange hasn’t been kind to Kevin Love in the past three years. In five games against Phoenix, the Minnesota Timberwolves power...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

The good news is that Eric Bledsoe is returning soon for the Phoenix Suns, barring setbacks. But should the Suns stop there? Why not sign Danny Granger for some playoff experience and offense off the bench?

The latest developments in the NBA have varying ties to the Suns.

Eric Bledsoe goes 3-on-3

All the details are on Coro's blog, but it appears that Bledsoe is making major progress toward a return to action in the next week or two as long as there are no setbacks.

"I didn't think I was going to be that fast or that quick coming back," Bledsoe said. "When I continue to progress, I think it's going to be a whole lot better."

His return would certainly boost the Suns play on both ends of the court, and it cannot come soon enough. Bledsoe would eat up all of Barbosa's minutes and most of Smith's, but he's a better players and proved that in November and December of this season when the Suns went 16-8 with him in the lineup.

Danny Granger

A report came out today the Danny Granger will be released/bought out by the Sixers after they acquired him for Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen at the deadline. The Sixers never wanted Granger to play for them - they really only wanted to remove the specter of Evan Turner's qualifying offer and Lavoy Allen's contract from their books. No one really knows what the Sixers will do with the cap space this summer, but they have more of it now.

Danny Granger is a 30-year old 6'8" small forward who once made an All-Star game and averaged 25 points per game for the Pacers. He's contributed to a playoff team three times in his career, twice as a starter and once going into the second round.

But then his knee busted and he's never been the same since. By the time he returned, Paul George had become an MVP candidate and Lance Stephenson had become a nightly triple-double threat.

Granger is not the player he once was, as we recently saw in two wins over the Pacers last month. He is shooting just 36% from the field, 33% on three-pointers and contributing half the points-per-minute of his career apex.

Yet, he's talented and playoff-proven.

Should the Suns find room for Granger on a minimum deal? He would take minutes from P.J. Tucker and Gerald Green as well as Marcus Morris. Especially once Eric Bledsoe comes back.

A couple of national media think Granger would be good in Phoenix.


Matt Moore (the HP guy) has a closet love affair with the Suns, ranking them 5th in the NBA today for cbssports,com. Matt thinks Granger would be good in the Phoenix offense.

So does Marc Stein, another long-time softie for the Suns who ranked them #11 on his Power Rankings today.

Phoenix is an interesting option for a Granger buyout if you believe in the mystical powers of the Suns' athletic training stuff and what they might be able to do to get Granger's body right.

What say you, Suns fans?

Should the Suns add Granger even with Bledsoe coming back?

  1666 votes | Results

Page 1048 of 2261


Web Links

Sponsored Ads