Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (6-19) at Phoenix Suns (11-12)

Phoenix Suns 128, Minnesota Timberwolves 122


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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 exact.

Lopez came off the bench for 15 minutes in his first game of the season after undergoing foot surgery in October.

The center scored eight points and took in seven rebounds in his limited appearance.

This time around will be a little different though.

According the Arizona Republic, Lopez is expected to start.

“[There is] no reason to have him warm up then sit on the bench,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry told The Republic. “So we’ll see how that goes and what happens with it, but if he’s ready to go, it’s probably 70-30 that we’ll start him.”

As for the game itself, Lopez’s return couldn’t come at a better time.

Minnesota is ranked first in the NBA in rebounding at 45.8 boards per game, so having Lopez back will at least help with some height in the paint.

The Timeberwolvs are also first in offensive rebounding with 14.3 per game and Phoenix has struggled through the entire early portion of its season in giving away second-chance points.

“We have to find a way to rebound the ball better,” Gentry said. “And this is not exactly where you want to be, playing a team that’s the No. 1 rebounding team in the league, especially on the offensive boards.”

Leading the charge for Minnesota is super big man Kevin Love.

Listed as 6-foot-10, Love plays like he’s 8 feet tall. He’s currently leading the league in rebounding at 15.6 per game.

“He’s killing everybody,” Channing Frye said. “He’s a great rebounder. He’s just kind of like a white Dennis Rodman, except he’s shooting the mess out of the ball, too.”

Love went for 31 points and 31 rebounds earlier this season against the Knicks. It was the first 30-30 game in 28 years.

New York is ranked No. 24 in rebounds allowed.

The Suns are tied for 28th in the league in the same category.

Yeah, Love is probably set for a big game tonight.

For the Suns to get the win, it’s going to be pretty simple: Will they make their shots?

It’s been well documented how Jason Richardson has struggled over the past few games, but the team as a whole hasn’t been up to par either.

Currently on a three-game losing streak, Phoenix has shot 18-of-60 from behind the arc over that stretch.

The team has trailed at the end of the first quarter in all three games as well.

“We had a stretch where we were having great first quarters and it didn’t seem to matter much.” Steve Nash said. “And now we’re getting off to slow starts. [The] bottom line is we just have to play better.”

Phoenix swept four games against Minnesota last season, winning by an average margin of victory of over 19 points.

The two teams look a tad different this season though.

The Timberwolves have gotten quality play from Miami castoff Michael Beasley. The former second overall pick leads the team in scoring at 21.2 per game.

Although the Suns come in with a decisively better record, Minnesota is a terrible matchup for Phoenix.

The Suns will need to rebound well and limit the Timberwolves’ second-chance opportunities to get the victory tonight.

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