Minnesota Timberwolves 117, Phoenix Suns 86 – Down and out

Posted by on March 22nd, 10:33 pm

PHOENIX – Twice in a row have the Phoenix Suns lost – no, gotten walloped – by teams draggling like torn nets on the bottom of the NBA’s riverbed.

After they made a respectable score out of a dominating first half by the Washington Wizards on Wednesday, the Suns pulled out another strikingly poor home performance Friday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Down with Jared Dudley out with a bug and Jermaine O’Neal dealing with sickness and a calf injury, Phoenix went small and without some of their key playmakers.

But the rebounding margin wasn’t the issue.

Neither was a zone implemented by the T-Wolves that forced a bad shooting team into 22 three-pointers.

Nor did it matter the Suns got made 10-of-21 free throws while Minnesota hit 31-of-40 in the 117-86 loss.

“I don’t even look at that,” interim coach Lindsey Hunter said, specifically answering why the free throw discrepancy was such. “That had nothing to do with that to me. There was no intensity in the beginning, there was no ball pressure, there was no sign of that we were going to fight, in the beginning. So I don’t care what the free throw (attempts) was.”

It was the second game in a row with such problematic effort.

Phoenix trailed 31-18 after first quarter as the T-Wolf who you’d guess as having a stark energy contrast with the lackluster Suns, Andrei Kirilenko, scored 11 quick points en route to 20 points and seven rebounds on the night. Then in his second game back from a knee surgery, T-Wovles forward Chase Budinger dropped in three quick jumpers in the first minute-plus of the second quarter as Minnesota went ahead 38-18.

On the other end, the T-Wolves used a 2-3 zone to disrupt Phoenix’s offense. Though the Suns made it a point to attack the interior of the zone, it often resulted in turnovers. And either way, the Suns’ three-point opportunities that were there – Minnesota did a good job of running at them – didn’t drop. They hit 1-of-9 three-pointers in the first half, and shot 4-of-22 for the game.

“We prevented them from scoring inside and forced them to take outside shots, and they shot a lot of shots,” Kirilenko said.

The defense by Minnesota kept the Suns so off-kilter that they had 13 turnovers leading to 15 points in the first half (Phoenix had only three turnovers and six more points off the miscues afterward), and they also lost the fastbreak battle off turnovers and misses 15-2.

Phoenix trailed 67-39 at halftime as Minnesota shot 58.1 percent to 38.6 for the Suns.

“They had it going,” said Wes Johnson, who struggled with his stroke and his 2-of-12 shots on Friday. “Our shots weren’t falling, all the little bunnies weren’t going in, the free throws, everything wasn’t going our way.”

After a team-only huddle before the half, point guard Goran Dragic came out gunning in the third quarter, scoring five consecutive points in the heart of the period and then dishing three assists in a row as the Suns went on a 13-6 run to make it 82-63. The Suns point guard accounted for 15 straight points on four assists and two buckets, but Phoenix wouldn’t pull the T-Wolves’ lead within thick, 19-point buffer.

Dragic finished with 13 points and 10 assists.

And on a night where they only had Hamed Haddadi as a true center, Hunter dismissed the size problem as being an issue. Luis Scola started against Nikola Pekovic at center, and the Argentinian scored 17 while grabbing 12 rebounds.

The Suns only lost the rebounding battle 40-31, perhaps because they shot 37.9 percent to Minnesota’s 53.2 for the game.

And despite having foul trouble on the frontline, well, Hunter again pointed back to the effort being an issue rather than any apprehensiveness because of the lack of big bodies – or bodies at that.

“Well, you know, I don’t think that (foul trouble) affected it at all,” he said. “In the third quarter they had the same amount of fouls, and they came out and played aggressive. Our guards were up, our guards were into guys, fighting over screens and we weren’t making excuses. You have to bring it every single night.”

Kevin Zimmerman is the lead blogger and editor for Valley of the Suns. He is also editor of AZDesertSwarm.com, an Arizona Wildcats\’ blog, and a contributor at SB Nation and Pac-12.com.

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Tags: Minnesota Timberwolves · Phoenix Suns Recap

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 SHAZAM // Mar 22, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    :)

  • 2 Scott // Mar 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    The Wolves have better players than the Suns do, as measured by PER.

    The 4 least talented players they put on the court were Stiemsma (9.8), Shved (10.8), and Gelabale (12.1), and Cunningham (12.5). Everyone else they put out had a PER of 13-19.

    The Suns, by comparison, played 5 players with a PER lower than 10.8 (Beasley, Tucker, Johnson, Haddadi, Marshall), both Morri are around 12, Brown and Garrett at 13.5, and only Scola and Dragic in the 16-17 range.

    The Suns *should* have had their butts whipped. Without O’Neal, Gortat, and Dudley, they just didn’t have the talent to cope with the Wolves.

  • 3 Scott // Mar 22, 2013 at 11:32 pm

    BTW, Kendall Marshall ought to stay in Phoenix this summer and play one-on-one against various Mercury players till he starts winning. :p

  • 4 Azbballfan // Mar 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm

    I didnt watch or listen to this game because i was playing Diablo 3 with a friend from out of town, but i will make some general comments based on the boxscore
    Lakers lost, rockets won, hornets won Suns are now in last place in the west

    Scola, Dragon and Haddadii played well

    Beasley come on man you are getting payed millions of dollars and you put up a negative 35 plus minus? in 18 minutes?
    that means you and the other 4 guys on the court gave up 2 points every minute or something close

    that makes kendall marshalls -19 plus minus with a paltry 3 points 4 assists and 2 steals in 18 minutes look sensational by comparison

    Atleast Alvin Gentry got this team to play hard , hunter cant even accomplish that at this point

    not that i can blame him, its babby and blanks fault in the 1st place

    hopefully sarver will come to his senses and clean house

    since most of the roster aint gonna be around next year and the front office and the coach in almost the same position im surpised every game isnt a 30 point beat down

    if we get a really good draft pick it will all be worth it, unless babby and blanks invest a way to mess it up

    i see that the Lakers collapsed in the 2nd half against the “we have 6 wins on the road the whole year’ wizards

    nice i will take that thanks

  • 5 richard lawler // Mar 23, 2013 at 3:55 am

    clean house…bring in Barkley

  • 6 David // Mar 23, 2013 at 8:53 am

    This was the first Suns game I’ve attended in Phoenix in about 5 years, and it broke my heart. I’ve been a Suns fan since I became cognizant of basketball, but it’s difficult to cheer for this team beyond Dragic. Michael Beasley is a cocky SOB that doesn’t perform or even appear to care. Most of the team appeared to give up in the first quarter last night. I pray for a good lottery pick.

  • 7 foreveris2long // Mar 23, 2013 at 10:15 am

    That was sickening. Everyone except Dragic and Scola were terrible. These blowouts are terrible especially at home where the fans are spending their hard earn dollars to see a mess like that.

  • 8 foreveris2long // Mar 23, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Robin Lopez, another double double last night against Memphis.23 pts, 10 boards, 4 blocks and 1 steal in 30 minutes. Our Ray Charles front office did not have the foresight to keep him and trade the older and more expensive Gortat. We deserve to be exactly where we are, the least talented team in pro basketball.

  • 9 DBreezy // Mar 23, 2013 at 11:12 am

    The optimist in me would like to think that the Suns are about two more seasons away from trending upward again, the more I watch and think though I wonder if it might not be closer to 5. You likely have to have a strong front office, a really strong draft or two, and some luck for it to happen in two seasons after bottoming out like this and a lot of those elements just don’t look to be in the cards for our Suns.

  • 10 Luka // Mar 23, 2013 at 11:52 am

    I’ve been watching the Suns since I was about 6 years old (1993) and this is the worst the Suns have been. There were some rugged years after acquiring, and then dealing Marbury. At least back then we had young talent (Stoudemire, Marion, Johnson, Barbosa) and cap room. This re-build is literally starting from the bottom due to Sarver’s stupidity. I’m growing tired of this front office wasting time and rationing the cap room on castoffs. No more draft busts, no more shortcuts. Either sign the big names, or just stay under the cap.

  • 11 Scott // Mar 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    On the plus side, Dragic is getting the kind of seasoning you need to be a good captain. Lots of dark days, adversity, and the holes in his teammates’ games make the holes in his own game look larger.

    I bet he spends the summer practicing his midrange and perimeter shots, kind of like how Nash learned to do it.

  • 12 Scott // Mar 23, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    As for the rebuilding process … with Blanks in charge, I think we can give up on having a thoughtful and intelligent rebuild. We’ll be relying on luck, which can be pretty fickle.

    Hopefully someone new, someone better, can come in and start fixing things around this time next year.

    As for Barkley as GM … I can’t help but be reminded of the “Can I play?” commercials he did for McDonald’s with Larry Bird and Michael Jordan. (Both Jordan and Bird have been GMs.)

  • 13 Scott // Mar 23, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    BTW … is it time to officially start rooting for Dallas to push the Lakers out of the playoffs?

    Looking at the schedules, it appears Dallas is the only team that can do it.

  • 14 Tony // Mar 23, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    @Dbreezy,

    this franchise will not contend again with Sarver running the show. I hate to sound like a broken record, but there is absolutely no indication that he’s learned from his prior mistakes or even that he’s willing to take responsibility for the Suns current position.

    I told everyone at the start of the season that this Suns team was terrible and would finish in the bottom 5 of the league. But some of the clowns, like Steve and John, thought otherwise, believing that they would compete for an 8th spot in the playoffs. But it wasn’t’ just them, it was also Sarver, Babby, and Blanks who thought the same. Remember when Babby declared that this was a more talented team than last season’s…..what a joke!

    The worst part though for the Suns rebuild is that this is not a young team! It’s basketball 101 that you don’t rebuild around players in or entering their primes or with aging veterans that haven’t established themselves with an organization. Look at the ages of the team’s best players-i.e., Dragic is 26 and turning 27 in a couple months, Gortat is 29, and Scola is 32 turning 33 next month. These guys are all too old to rebuild around and yet, they are the team’s best players!! It’s just stupid!!

  • 15 Tony // Mar 23, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    @Scott,

    With Kobe back in the Lakers lineup, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Lakers fall out of the playoff picture. Watching last night’s Laker game, it borders on comical how predictable the Lakers 4th quarter offense is run and how easy it is to stop them. Just about every single possession, as soon as Kobe checked in, the entire offense is run through him! What makes it so comical and sad at the same time is that this strategy fails about 85-90% of the time, but yet, they continue to run it the same way over and over again.

    Moreover, with Kobe back, the pace of the Lakers offense becomes painstakingly slow. Kobe holds the ball for 15-20 seconds the majority of the time, before finally doing something. He’s probably the most overrated player of his generation, if not league history.

  • 16 Scott // Mar 23, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    @Tony -

    Heh. We shall see. Naturally, it is best if the Lakers shoot themselves in the foot. :)

  • 17 Polish_fan // Mar 23, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Kobe overrated lmao …..

  • 18 john // Mar 23, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    @VotS

    If for no other reason, bring back the livefyre comments so we can be free of Tony. :)

  • 19 @Mike_hAz // Mar 23, 2013 at 11:07 pm

    Kobe s not overrated he’s just older and not the same player he used to be, and I don’t even like the lake sho….let’s hope they keep stumbling n give the suns a second lottery pick! As far as the suns go were in bad shape right now…I can’t believe garret is even on an NBA roster..

  • 20 azbballfan // Mar 24, 2013 at 4:42 am

    With all the doom and gloom this season there have been some positives

    Dragic looks like a legit starting point guard

    Haddadi was a nice pickup for a player we werent going to use

    Wesley Johnson has proven he can be a solid rotation player.

    Scola never seems to stop fighting

    While i am angry that the suns have gone from great to terrible in a few short years, this franchise was going to bottom out eventually

    i just hope sarver has the sense to not reward babby and blanks and hunter by giving them all new contacts

    that would be insane but i have a feeling thats probably what sarver would do

    somehow, this is all everyone elses fault except his 3 guys he put in to run the place

    bring in nate mcmillan as head coach, bring in someone respectable in the front office

    blood is on babbys hands too so he needs to go

    really everything that those 3 guys say is gonna be damage control anyway.

    All you gotta be as an onwer is be a face and a name that writes checks

    Suns fans are not asking for a great owner or a obsessed owner like mark cuban

    we just want someone who at the bare minimum makes sound decisions!

    now stoudemire has been hurt in new york this year but i sitll would have given him that oontract

    that would have kept the team together the next year atleast

    NBA title windows are short for all but a handfull of teams

    if Stoudemire breaks down later so what

    and he didnt want to stay, as some people have said then why is that?

    Yeah lopez is cheaper and playing near the level gortat is, when you look at stats except lopez is younger too

    its really easy to criticize after the fact but the front office doenst even seem to have any meaningful logic or plan in place to explain bone headed moves like that

    its kinda funny the front office has praise for hunter no matter how badly the team looks……well of course! its their asses on the line so they might as well give glowing reviews of his games

    hopefully we can lose everyone of these last 12 games that would make it the 2nd worst season in franchise history

    what are the chances you guys think that sarver gives all 3 of them (hunter, babby and blanks)

    brand new deals?

    i think he does!

  • 21 foreveris2long // Mar 24, 2013 at 9:47 am

    AzBBall, good stuff.As for Amare,if the Suns had signed him they would have had a good chance of winning it all as they would have matched up with Dallas very well that year. Kerr wanted them to sign him. It would have been very similar to what Boston did with Garnett. They won one championship and Garnett had major surgery the following season. However my major problem with Amare is they could have signed him cheaper when he was coming off of the eye surgery but instead they took the wait and see position. Then they refused to sign him and spent the same money on stiffs.

    As for Lopez Dbreezy and Hawk will attest to the fact I have been yelling trade Gortat for 2 years. I guess my point is a hack like me can make that call why can’t the 3 blind mice do likewise. The Suns sport reporters won’t call the Ray Charles staff on that move because there is no logical defense. There are a few of us who knew the Suns were not a playoff team so again why couldn’t the 3 blind mice have made a similar call.

  • 22 Tony // Mar 24, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    It’s ok John, I know it’s tough for a knucklehead such as yourself to admit when you’re flat out wrong!

    @Mike,

    Kobe has been and always will be overrated. People talk about how clutch he supposedly is; yet, if you look into his career averages in 4th quarters, this myth of him being so clutch doesn’t bear out.

    Kobe’s a glorified scorer who rode the coattails of Shaq and then the combo of Gasol/Bynum/Odom. Heck, the Suns knocked his Lakers out twice.

    The true failing of Bryant, and what separates him from truly great players, is that he doesn’t have the ability to make his teammates better.

  • 23 Tony // Mar 24, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    @Foreveris,

    I know you have long called for keeping Lopez instead of Gortat and you were then and are now, absolutely right. Again, it’s just basic basketball, you don’t rebuild around older players already in their prime! Lopez is much younger than Gortat and he hasn’t yet reached his prime.

  • 24 Scott // Mar 24, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    As I’ve said before, my suspicion is that Blanks had determined to get rid of both Lopez and Gortat. It was just that Lopez’s contract came up first.

    @Azbballfan -

    Keep in mind that Haddadi has a PER of 8.86. He’s not in great shape yet, so that number may climb a skosh. At least the Suns have a big body available to throw in next year if they do decide to keep him, and he’s cheap and playing for his next contract.

    Wes Johnson is indeed defending, rebounding, and jacking up shots for the Suns, but his PER is 9.29 (!!). That’s consistent with his PER when he was in Minnesota, but IIRC it’s actually a bit lower. I’m not sure we’ll ever see better from him, but I’d offer him a contract like the one the Suns offered Brown last year ($3m per year, 2 years, 2nd year team option).

    A fan must be desperate to think of two guys who have been in the league for a few years already – who have PERs below 10 – and be pleased. If you want to compete, most of your players need to be 15 and above.

    For scale, note that LeBron has a PER of 31. Durant has a PER of 28. Kobe, for all the wear and tear, still has a PER of 23, and Dwight Howard is posting a PER of 19 despite his ailing back and torn labrum.

    Shawn Marion, a few years past his prime (13 years in the league), still has a PER of 17. Amare, playing between surgical visits, still has a PER of 22. Kurt Thomas, the “oldest guy in the league,” has a PER of 13.27 … which is subpar – he’s only getting 2 pts and 2 rebs in 10-15 minutes – but that’s still better than half the Suns.

    Suns who are above average: O’Neal, Dragic, Scola, Gortat, and Dudley (who is average). The rest (Brown, the 2 Morrises, Garrett, Beasley, Tucker, Johnson, Haddadi, Marshall) are not just below 15, but significantly below.

    It’s a good thing the Suns are drafting Brittney Griner next year …. ;)

  • 25 foreveris2long // Mar 24, 2013 at 4:34 pm

    The more at look at the nCAA tournament the more I am convinced McLemore should not be an automatic # 1 pick. He has had some really sub par games and today he is 0-9 from the field. Shabazz, Porter and Bennett have been disappointing as well. In actuality there could anyone of probably 10 guys who could turn out to be the best pick in this summer’s draft.Every potential top 10 pick has significant questions about their game. The pre-draft camps may have more significance this year than in previous years. Payne for Michigan State was huge yesterday and Oladipo played very well today.

  • 26 foreveris2long // Mar 24, 2013 at 4:35 pm

    Sorry for the errors above, in too much of a rush.

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