PHOENIX — Wednesday night’s game showed all the signs early on of a classic slumpbuster for the Suns. And then it didn’t. Then it did again. How it got categorized after the final buzzer...

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Another addition to the W column is all that matters, Yes? 

Tonight the Phoenix Suns did what they had to in order to dispatch the Minnesota Timberwolves, 128-122. It wasn't pretty, and perhaps a Suns fan would hope for a greater margin of victory against one of the worst teams in the league, but let's face it people, a win is a win is a win.

The Suns hit 7 3-pointers in the final period to erase a 7 point deficit, serving the knock out punch to a spry Timberwolves squad. The heroes were many for the Suns, so lets hit the bullets:

 

  • Channing Frye hit 7 3-pointers, including 4 in in the 4th quarter, going 21/9 for the game
  • Steve Nash dished out 19 assists to go with 11 points
  • Jason Richardson went for 29 and 8  off of 11-23 shooting.
  • Grant Hill went for 21/5/4 and held Beasley to 17 and 6
  • Goran Dragic came off the pine for 11 and 5
  • Jared Dudley hit 3 from beyond the arc

Commentary:

The Suns out rebounded the top rebounding club in the league 46-39, yet gave up 58 points in the paint while committing 16 turnovers resulting in 20 Minnesota points. All things considered, the Suns hit the buckets when they needed to and D'd it up when they needed to. Love got his, but that was fine, the Suns kept the rest of the Wolves off the boards and played decent enough defense on the rest of squad.

This wasn't a good matchup for the Suns considering the size of the front line of the Wolves. But Robin Lopez returned from injury to play 24 quality minutes (12/8, +9), and Grant Hill neutralized Michael Beasley. With Richardson hitting shots, Frye turning it on in the 4th, and Nash getting the squad involved to the tune of 19 dimes, Minnesota had no answer for the Suns in the end. Night night, losing streak, let's get on with it.

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[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/15/10 10:17 PM MST ]

Phoenix Suns Defend Home Court With Win Over Minnesota Timberwolves, 128-122 - SB Nation Arizona
It's a win and a nice close-out against a young, tired team, but you can't be pleased with all the open shots the Wolves got in this game -- they shot 53.8 percent on the night. The Suns are last in the league in opponent field goal percentage allowed.

 

Audio: Lopez postgame 121510

Game Notes

1st Qtr

  • It was fun seeing Earl Clark and Mike Beasley catch-up before the game and share hug and a few giggles
  • JRich! I figured he would play well tonight
  • Nash/Lopez pick and roll...oh, how I missed that!
  • Nash missing a wide open jump shot, that's just wrong. WRONG
  • One of the keys to this game on the big board was HAVE FUN. That Nash behind the back pass from Nash was certainly an attempt at that
  • Wow, what a rebound from Robin
  • Yup, JRich with 9 already....so glad I put him on my fantasy team tonight. No way was he going to have a bad game here
  • Great bounce pass on the break from JRich to Hill but Beasley blocked him from behind
  • Suns up 14-4 btw (just in case you are following along in delayed real time via DVR which I highly recommend...it's like watching the movie w/ the director's comments)
  • Lopez fells asleep there and Darko was able to turn baseline on him
  • Crowd is into this game early...so are the Suns. Chicken or egg?
  • They are dropping sandwiches from the rafters. I refuse to look up
  • Barron in for Robin early...interesting. 6:00 in, I guess that makes sense. Robin still rusty and what not. Keeps size on Darko and Love
  • 2nd foul on Frye battling with Love for a rebound. That's gonna bring Warrick in off the bench
  • That was a classic Nash pass...which is to say it was awesome
  • That's 15 for JRich...
  • 3rd time they've called the Suns for trying keep a body on Love. That's just not fair
  • Early exit for Nash...he's not in tip-top form
  • 25-19, Suns. Defense getting sloppy
  • Darko looks completely gassed right now...time out Rambis
  • Tough shot by Flynn, Goran was on him
  • That's 4 fouls drawn by Suns in the paint on Love...but only 3 Reb in the 1st qtr
  • Earl Barron with the hilarious shooters bounce
  • Horrible defense by Suns here letting Wolves up off the mat. 31-30, Suns

2nd Qtr

  • Guessing Channing Frye's +/- was pretty high
  • Robin back in to start the 2nd
  • Sweet pass from Dragic to Warrick for the slam
  • Very nice rebound from Hakim. I wish he did that consistently and so do you
  • Pekovic going right at Robin. Scored once, drew a shooting foul the 2nd time
  • Warrick playing very well...super active in the paint off the ball
  • Sorry, I was watching that almost buzzer-beater three from Amare. Did I miss anything? 37-35, Suns
  • Horrible sequence...Suns blow a 3 on 1 fast break and then Dragic fouls Flynn from behind on the shot which he made anyway
  • Ah...see. Robin would have dunked that ball last year. This time he had to lay it in. Still not back to his explosive self
  • Nash coming back in at 7:00..JRich getting off the bench as well
  • Beasley abusing Warrick
  • Great job by Robin to win that rebound. Can't teach size
  • Wolves up 41-39. Time for JRich to drop another 15 points
  • Uh oh. Beasley heating up from mid-range, that's damn near impossible to defend
  • Yup, Frye a +6...still hasn't checked back in. Here he comes for Robin
  • See, that's a put-back slam from Robin when he's 100%
  • If those last two bullets seem confusing, just move on and pretend they made chronological sense
  • Nash pass...enuf said
  • Kurt Rambis has a pretty large bald spot that probably can't be seen in person b/c he's tall but from up here it puts Manu's to shame
  • JRich and Steve in. Lead back. 49-45. Second unit defense still an issue
  • The Wolves bigs do pass the ball well...they have talent just no experience of cohesion
  • Suns have gone super small here for awhile w/ Hill, JRich, Dudley and Frye and Nash. Darko doing damage on Frye. Warrick coming back in for Frye who just picked up his 3rd foul. Robin in for Grant. Seen enough small
  • Robin just plowed Love in the chest to let the rebound fall to Warrick. That's the stuff he gives you that doesn't show up on the box score
  • Robin's missed several short shots that he was money with last year. That touch will return. Doesn't matter since JRich was there to clean up the mess...he's beasting like a Riesling or a bee sting or something
  • Lol...sorry Kanye
  • 56-56 at the half

3rd Qtr

  • Suns 27-16 in TReb and 9-2 in OReb but both teams have four 2nd chance points
  • Frye pissed that Love wasn't called for fouling him on that rebound
  • Smooth spin and finish from Robin. Great box out by JRich on Love to allow Suns to get rebound. Team effort
  • Soft double team by Suns on Ridnour in the corner leads to wide open Beasley three. Not good defense there
  • Another open three by Wolves. Suns rotations are off for some reason
  • Fortunately, the Wolves aren't going to be able to get enough stops on the Suns tonight but still would have hoped for better after four days off
  • Come on, Kevin. Get up. It wasn't that hard of a foul
  • I'm gonna have to watch and see what the Suns are trying to do defensively that's leaving so many guys open
  • Once again, wide open three as too many defenders help on Ridnour
  • Btw, no Josh Childress tonight. I guess that's the answer as to who's minutes are getting cut
  • 77-72, Suns with 5:42
  • Frye and K Love chatting it up out there like best pals
  • Why on EARTH would Corey Brewer leave Steve Nash to double Frye in the post against Darko?
  • 5 fouls on Beasley....that's pretty much how the Suns are going to stop him
  • Goran in, 84-78 w/ 2:51 to go in the 3rd
  • Subtle adjustment by Gentry to bring Dragic in earlier in the 1st and 3rd so he can get a few more minutes w/ starters Hill, Frye and JRich
  • Goran hot on one end but Suns still can't get stops
  • Suns get a stop
  • Wow, strong move by Hedo with the dunk finish. 91-86
  • Great stop there and then push the ball for an open JRich three...too bad he missed it

4th Qtr

  • Nice ball movement for JD three. Suns still not getting stops
  • Darko putting together nice post moves against Suns. Hedo can't stop him in the paint which is why Robin is coming back in
  • Hakim, make your free throws, man!!
  • And the Wolves lead 97-95 off a Wesley Johnson three
  • Even the fake pumped in "lets go Suns" sounds weak
  • Timeout Gentry, 99-95 Wolves. Yuck
  • Still not too worried b/c Nash will come back in and Minnesota starters will be tired but really
  • Suns down five, Nash, Hill and JRich coming back in a minute or two earlier than Gentry would like
  • See what Nash can do? Even sitting at the scorers table the Suns get a three
  • You have to give it to Darko, he looks smooth in the post
  • And another three for the Suns. Timeout Minnie. 104-103
  • Starters plus Dudley on the floor. Dudley earned extra minutes with that three
  • You know, the Wolves move the ball pretty darn well and they are hitting shots
  • Stop, rebound, three = lead
  • Another three for Frye, up 111-106
  • Now that the three's are falling like skirts off drunk sorority girls, the defense is starting to pick up
  • And now that the lead got big enough, the defense slacked off....I am really not liking this at all. Too much like the D'Antoni era Suns but without Amare
  • 122-118 with 24 seconds to go...shouldn't be this close at all
  • Post game note: If you ever see a picture of Nash being interviewed and the mic's are right up in his face, the reason for that is b/c he whispers. He's barely audible from 2 feet away





PF: Kevin Love ... Channing Frye

 

C: Darko Milicic ... Robin Lopez

 

SF: Michael Beasley ... Grant Hill

SG: Wes Johnson ... Jason Richardson

PG: Luke Ridnour ... Steve Nash




Suns 128, Timberwolves 122 Seems like it was just last year Robin Lopez was returning from an injury against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Oh wait, it was just last year. November 29 of last year to be...

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Something evidently called a blizzard happened in Minnesota over the weekend. I guess it's a cold weather thing which desert rats like me don't quite understand. However I am fairly certain the Minnesota Timberwolves are overjoyed to come out West and play basketball to escape this raining snow situation. But will 80 degrees be too hot for them? I'm guessing the climate will favor the Suns in this one. Of course I've been wrong before.

Tonight the Suns face the number one rebounding team in the league. The good news is Robin Lopez is slated to start. Of course, this is bad news for those of you who already purchased your Earl Barron jerseys. Don't worry, he may still get some time off the pine before he's jetisoned back to the D-Leagues or wherever his next destination will be. Plus, you'll have an excellent Suns obscurity to break out when entertaining friends and family.

Aside from the obvious questions such as how ready is Robin, how effective can he be after the injury and layoff, The Suns have some other pressing questions:

  • Whose the odd man out in the rotation?: Who out of the logjam of 3's gets the short end of the stick.? While J-Chill and Dudz are better defenders than Hedo, Turk has attributes that neither of the other two have. Namely some alleged playmaking ability and some serious 4th quarter stones.
  • What about Hakim? Will WarMachine's defensive liabilities continue to limit his court time?
  • Has a few days off and a few days of practice put Jason Richardson in the right frame of mind to get hot again? Rich put up 7 straight games of 20+ points and at least 7 field goals made in a Suns 5-2 stretch. And we all know the Suns are 189-2 when rich plays good and all that.

The Timberwolves present some obvious front court challenges for the Suns. Kevin Love is the second coming of Rodman (in the rebounding sense), only with less piercings, tats, and strange phone calls into radio stations for no apparant reason other than to flaunt the fact he had a hooker with him. Darko's a load to deal with and is coming off of a 25 and 11 game. Michael Beasley is bringing 21 points per game, good for second in the league among forwards. 

 

FG3PTFTReboundsMisc
GMMAPctMAPctMAPctOffDefTotAstTOStlBlkPFPPG
Michael Beasley 23 33.3 8.7 18.3 47.2 0.8 2.2 38.0 3.0 4.4 69.3 1.7 4.3 6.1 1.5 2.8 0.8 0.8 3.7 21.2
Kevin Love 25 35.1 6.8 15.4 44.5 1.3 3.1 41.0 5.3 6.0 88.0 4.8 10.8 15.6 2.2 2.4 0.5 0.5 2.1 20.2
Martell Webster 1 26.0 6.0 8.0 75.0 2.0 2.0 100.0 3.0 5.0 60.0 0.0 5.0 5.0 2.0 5.0 1.0 0.0 3.0 17.0
Luke Ridnour 20 28.5 3.9 8.4 46.1 1.1 2.5 44.0 1.8 2.0 90.0 0.5 2.1 2.6 5.0 2.0 1.2 0.2 1.9 10.6
Darko Milicic 24 26.5 4.2 9.6 43.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 2.1 62.7 2.3 3.9 6.1 2.0 2.3 0.5 2.7 3.3 9.8
Corey Brewer 25 24.9 3.1 8.6 35.8 0.6 1.9 29.2 2.4 3.3 74.4 0.8 2.2 3.0 1.6 1.3 1.8 0.2 2.6 9.2
Wesley Johnson 25 28.4 3.4 8.0 43.2 1.2 3.3 36.6 0.8 1.3 63.6 1.0 2.4 3.4 1.9 1.5 0.4 0.6 2.8 8.9
Sebastian Telfair 24 21.7 2.8 6.5 42.7 0.8 2.0 38.3 1.3 1.8 72.7 0.3 1.0 1.3 3.6 2.0 0.7 0.1 1.8 7.7
Wayne Ellington 19 18.5 2.6 6.3 42.0 0.9 2.1 42.5 0.4 0.7 61.5 0.2 1.3 1.5 0.8 0.9 0.6 0.0 1.5 6.6
Anthony Tolliver 19 18.7 1.9 4.3 45.1 0.7 1.7 43.8 1.7 2.2 78.6 1.2 2.9 4.1 1.3 0.9 0.4 0.5 2.1 6.4
Nikola Pekovic 16 13.8 2.2 4.6 47.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 1.9 70.0 1.8 1.4 3.2 0.3 1.6 0.1 0.7 3.0 5.7
Jonny Flynn 1 16.0 1.0 2.0 50.0 1.0 2.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0
Sundiata Gaines 7 9.1 1.0 3.1 31.8 0.3 0.9 33.3 0.7 1.1 62.5 0.1 0.7 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.4 0.0 0.6 3.0
Kosta Koufos 20 7.0 1.0 2.3 44.4 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4 0.5 70.0 0.8 0.9 1.7 0.1 0.6 0.2 0.3 1.2 2.4
Lazar Hayward 15 7.5 0.5 2.3 20.0 0.3 1.1 23.5 0.5 0.7 80.0 0.7 0.8 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.3 0.2 1.0 1.7

 



I'd love to break out some highly technical analysis on this one, but we all know what has to happen for the Suns to win: body up the T-Wolve bigs, hit some shots, and play with some heart. And for the heck of it, check this quote out:

"Our team needs to learn that if they don't play hard every night, we are not going to win...We did not give a maximum effort. We gave them too many second chance opportunities and turned the ball over too many times."

Sound familiar? Well that was T-Wolves Coach Kurt Rambis. Of course it could have been Alvin Gentry, or virtually anyone in the league.

Numbers are Fun:

  • The Wolves have dropped 25 of 26 games on the road, dating back to last season
  • The Suns have won five straight over Minnesota by an average of 18 points and have won seven of the past eight meetings in in Phoenix.
  • The Suns haven't lost 3 in a row at US Airways Center since Jan. 16-31, 2009

Game Day Links:

AZCentral: Lopez to Start:

Asked how the 255-pound 7-footer has looked in the final stages of his comeback, Frye grinned and said: "Great. That boy is crazy. He's everywhere. I forgot how big and long and active he is. "I think that's the biggest thing. He helps us in practice rebounding, and him and Garret (Siler, 6-11, 305) just go at it, it's like Godzilla and King Kong down there."

MN Star Tribune:
Beasley's all dressed up but has a long way to go:

The Wolves' new go-to scorer wears a headband, dreadlocks, tattoos that make his entire body look like a Ren & Stimpy cartoon, pads on his right elbow, ribs and tailbone, and white sleeves with shin pads on both calves. 

Timberwolves vs Suns coverage

Timberwolves vs Suns preview

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[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/15/10 4:33 PM MST ]

Nash has been using this time off to try and get his body right:

Phoenix Suns Schedule Kindly Delivers The Minnesota Timberwolves - SB Nation Arizona
"Since I got hurt, I've been shooting like 20 percent from three, so it's been really difficult for me. Hopefully, if I get healthy again, I can obviously shoot it better," Nash said about his 2-for-10 three-point shooting so far in the month of December.

And more on the Grant Hill is Awesome story

Steve Nash Agrees, Grant Hill Having His Best Season As A Phoenix Sun - SB Nation Arizona
The case for Grant Hill to be in the NBA All-Star consideration goes beyond the numbers. His coach and MVP teammate Steve Nash are, not surprisingly, two of his biggest supporters, but that doesn't mean either is just blindly blowing smoke when it comes to Grant's play. These are the guys that go to battle each game with Grant and understand better than anyone how well he's playing.


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