Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (17-63) at Phoenix Suns (38-42)

Phoenix Suns 135, Minnesota Timberwolves 127 OT


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With both the Suns and Timberwolves now fighting more for ping pong balls than wins, Monday’s matchup between the two teams might come down to who wants to lose more.

Minnesota has lost 13 straight to tie Cleveland for the worst record in the NBA while Phoenix has dropped eight of 10 to free fall out of playoff contention.

The Suns currently sit in 10th place in the West but could drop to 11th if they lose and Utah wins.

Monday will be the second game of a back-to-back for Phoenix after falling in Dallas Sunday.

The Suns didn’t put out much effort against the Mavericks in their last away game of the season in the 115-90 loss.

“Well, we got off to a bad start and we were never in the game,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. “They shot the ball well and we couldn’t come up with baskets and couldn’t come up with stops. That’s what the game was.”

Phoenix now returns home to close out the year with two home games this week.

“It’s hard when you’re not playing for anything to try and make it count,” Steve Nash said. “We haven’t done a good job of that and it’s up to us try to finish these last two games on a positive note.”

The loss clinched the Suns’ first losing season in nine years.

Phoenix has won seven straight against Minnesota and look to sweep the season series Monday.

The two teams last met less than a week ago in Minneapolis, with the Suns taking home a 10-point victory.

The Timberwolves were without star forward Kevin Love, who hasn’t played since April 1 against Miami.

The game Monday will likely be a competition between the two benches.

In their last meeting, no Suns starter played the fourth quarter. The game was put in the hands of Aaron Brooks and the rest of the second unit while the rest of the team sat and watched.

Sunday in Dallas, no Phoenix starter played more than 28 minutes.

With just two games left on the schedule, now isn’t exactly the time to play guys for 48 minutes. Gentry is trying to get the young guys some work so hopefully next fall, the team will be more cohesive as a single unit.

Marcin Gortat scored 15 last night to lead the team and he scored 20 when the Suns last met Minnesota.

It seems that the Polish Hammer isn’t quite ready for this season to be over. In his new role as a starter, Gortat is doing what he’s been hoping to do for his entire career as a professional in the NBA.

Steve Nash was limited to 25 minutes Sunday while battling a hamstring injury. Nash said he wants to play in the two remaining games but how much he plays is still up in the air.

The last time Minnesota beat Phoenix was Jan. 16, 2009.

  • Steve

    Win/lose, it won’t help/hurt us much, so I guess I’d rather just get the win tonight. Wish I could have seen Love play this year.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Gortat seems to understand the scenario and opportunity developing around him.

    Franchises pray for a good big man and as such, cater to them. Worship is showered over a good center.

    He probably sees young shooters around him and, (a PHX myth next), great defenders likely starting with him next year in JChil and JMZ.

    Plus, dude has to be hungry; it could actually be him that finally helps bury the Nash era and the style / players needed to run it at a high level.

    I hope he avoids his national team over the next few years and carries that hunger into off season improvements. It would make the rebuilding process shorter than a Kardashian skirt.

  • Steve

    Knowing what the man means to Poland and how he cares about his home country (understandably so), I don’t think there’s any chance he’ll be missing much time with Team Poland.

  • Michael Schwartz

    Gortat actually recently said he’s leaning against playing for the national team citing insurance reasons if there’s a lockout. He said that obviously he would like to play and feels some semblance of responsibility as the only Polish player in the NBA, but if there is an extended lockout and ensuing issues involving insurance I bet you he will stay home and work on his post moves, etc.

  • Rich Anthony, (KJL)

    Michael, you’re a lot closer to things than I am. Any evidence that, in fact, those upstairs are beginning to view Gortat as a major point of importance?

    It could change the drafting and free agent strategy substantially if they’re beginning to flirt with the idea of Gortat being “ground zero” in what comes next.

  • Mel.

    Gortat as the centerpiece for a post-Nash reality… isn’t that bad a notion. Not a miracle solution by any means, but of all the pieces we’re likely to hang onto, he’s got the right mindset and upside to assume the leadership/go-to mantle.

    Supposing he sticks, what would the theoretical makeover entail? Brooks is serviceable at running the P n’ R, we could use an upgrade at the three and a legitimate four, but shedding RoLo and the probability of a Nash trade puts that within the realm of possibility…

  • Michael Schwartz

    Just looking at the roster, I don’t think there’s anybody else who even could be “ground zero.” The question is if management is ready to move on from the Nash era or give it one more shot. I know to many of us it’s obvious that they need to move on, but there is the whole Nash as cash cow theory that I really hope isn’t true.

    We will have six months (and really probably more like eight or nine with the lockout) to discuss and analyze all the minutiae of a possible rebuilding situation, but I guess the baseline to me is Gortat and Dudley as core pieces, then Frye-Childress-Warrick being either solid or too expensive of a contract for anybody else to seriously want. I think they could get two more future assets (maybe a solid young player and a pick) in a Nash trade, plus, the lottery pick, and you go from there. I feel like Pietrus might decline the option and we can see how Gentry feels about Lopez these past few games, with RoLo not even playing tonight. Brooks I just don’t want to see receive a huge contract, but at the right price I could be OK with him coming back. Will be an interesting summer for certain.