Minnesota Timberwolves 105, Phoenix Suns 93 — Turnover troubles


The Suns have admitted they’re not a team with a lot of room for error. They didn’t play that way at Minnesota, attempting behind-the-back and no-look passes, proving that the Suns can indeed play loosely.

Just not efficiently.

Against one of the best defensive perimeters in the league (Ricky Rubio, Luke Ridnour and Andrei Kirilenko average a combined 4.9 steals per game), the result was an appalling 27 turnovers that led to 33 points for the Timberwolves, more than making up for the absence of Kevin Love.

Luis Scola snagged most turnover honors, flirting with the kind of triple double that makes ball-dominant point guards jealous. His 14 points and nine rebounds were met with eight turnovers, a result of aggressive post defense from Derrick Williams, Greg Steimsma and double-teaming guards.

Scola wasn’t the only one. Goran Dragic (six turnovers) and Kendall Marshall (three) repeatedly got caught in the air with nowhere to go before throwing the ball away. P.J Tucker and Jared Dudley, in fact, were the only Suns who played that didn’t log a turnover.

It’s a shame, because when Phoenix wasn’t turning the ball over, they were turning in one of their best offensive performances of the season. The Suns shot 37-of-73 from the field in the 105-93 loss on Saturday, a rare appearance above 50 percent for a team with no player outside of Goran Dragic that can be counted on to score consistently.

Shot selection was the difference, with the younger guys showing the most improvement. Markieff Morris had one of his most efficient nights as a pro, scoring a game-high 20 points on just 11 shots. Only four of those were 3-pointers, a relief for fans fearing that Morris would continue his attempt to evolve into Channing Frye 2.0.

Wesley Johnson helped spark the Suns to an early lead before finishing with 15 points on spot-ups, pull-ups and transition baskets. Like Dragic did in Houston last year, Johnson is increasing his value late in the year. Sure, it’s happening on a lottery team with no expectations in meaningless, late-season games, but Suns brass has likely seen enough from the soon-to-be free agent to make them think long and hard this summer.

Morris project back on board?

After a seven-game stretch of less than 10 minutes per game, Marcus Morris appears to be (somewhat) back in Lindsey Hunter’s rotation. The recently acquired twin has played double-digit minutes in the last three games, and the Suns made a point to run a couple plays for him Saturday night.

You’re not going to believe this, but at least two of them involved his brother Markieff.

One play saw the twins run their own version of a pick and roll (Marcus missed that shot) and the other had Markieff feeding Marcus in the post (also failed).

It’s clear, however, that the two play with more energy when on the floor together. The question is whether that energy/talent is enough to justify keeping them long-term. Barring a trade, they’ll have at least next year to answer that  before the team options in their rookie contracts come up.

Haddadi sighting

With Jermaine O’Neal held out for the second time in four games due to a bruised shin, Hamed Haddadi again stepped in as the Suns’ backup center. While Haddadi provided the inside presence expected from a 7-foot-2 big man, coming up with four boards in 10 minutes. He matched that with an equally impressive four turnovers.

Despite Eddie Johnson’s on-air love for the Iranian big man, don’t be shocked if the Suns waive him before next season. He’s due over $1.3 million in 2013-14, but it’s non-guaranteed.

  • SHAZAM

    season almost over (y)

  • Scott

    Congrats to Markieff for playing well. I expected this sort of play from the start of the season though, and to see it surface at the end makes me wonder if it is fool’s gold.

    The reason the Morris twins went so high in the draft was because they were perceived as low risk, NBA ready guys who compensated for their negligible upside with their ability to jump right in and play. This has turned out to be not the case, as they were both unready AND low potential players, so Suns scouts please take note.

    (Houston fell for the same trap as the Suns, BTW, as they’re the ones that drafted Marcus instead of going for someone theoretically less ready but with higher potential.)

    To echo a post of mine in the previous thread, I really want to see heavy minutes by the unusual suspects in the remaining games. I want to see more Marcus, more Garrett, more Haddadi, and more Marshall. More minutes by Johnson is okay, but I worry that by now he’s auditioning for other teams.

    The other guys can play, sure, but there’s not much point in seeing Dragic, Scola, Dudley, or O’Neal out there, except to play while others rest.

    If Beasley wants to play, I say let him play at PF. Play anyone else at SF. I don’t think Beasley is really undersized for PF, and we’ve seen him play good defense against Griffin and Lee.

  • foreveris2long

    Just pull the plug, this is enough agony for one season. I wonder if Memphis will rest players against Utah in their next game to assist in allowing Utah in the playoffs instead of the Lakers.

  • Azbballfan

    Yeah i hope the Grizzlies dont care and just sit people while Utah sneaks in the backdoor to the cookiejar and the playoffs

    28 turn overs? wow i didnt know Minny was that good to force that many

    Marshall hasnt played much recently, any reason why?

    The Suns should have picked up Johnsons cheap option before the season started, now if they want him they will likely have to pay more

    Clippers hold the tie breaker over the Grizzlies and if they win the next game, Memphis cant improve their standing from what i can tell so they will probably rest their guys for the regular season finale

    Which is good for Utah

    i expect them to beat Minny and win at Memphis or atleast i hope so

    Just two games left!

  • bill.thomas

    @foreveris2long: It seems as though Grizzlies could still regain home court adv. vs. the Clippers if they win both remaining games and the Clips lose 1. So I would not expect them to be rested unless Memphis loses the preceding game against Dallas, which is like a little submersible bomb for them since they may take it likely. But if they can win at Dallas I would expect them not to rest against Utah.

  • bill.thomas

    @Azbballfan: You think Johnson’s option was cheap ????

  • bill.thomas

    @Haddadi: If they take him and he does not perform, can they release him mid-season and not have to pay for the rest? Or are they locked in for the full season if
    they exercise the option at all?

  • Scott

    Mark Cuban has publicly announced that he’s going to do a quick rebuild. This may mean his draft picks (projected to be #13 and #43) are available.

    However, it’s hard to see the Suns latching onto those picks, especially since the draft comes before the free agency period and Cuban will want to see what he can get in free agency.

    The only players Dallas has for certain next year are Dirk, Marion, and Vince Carter … all 17+ PER players. The rest may either fail to re-sign or get tossed to the curb.

    Who will be on Cuban’s shopping list? I don’t know. FA possibilities that occur to me, in no particular order, include:

    Kyle Korver (on the cheap)
    Tony Allen
    Jarrett Jack
    Jose Calderon
    Beno Udrih
    Kevin Martin
    JJ Hickson
    Tiago Splitter
    Al Jefferson

    Dwight Howard (theoretically staying with Lakers)
    Chris Paul (theoretically staying with Clippers)

    BTW, if I was Mitch Kupchak, I’d have to at least consider the possibility of signing Dwight Howard and then trading him, say to Cleveland for Anderson Varejao. Andy has virtually the same stats, is paid half the money, and is much less of a drama queen. The Cavs, for their part, would get an All-Star center to go along with the developing front court of Irving and Waiters.

  • bill.thomas

    I suspect Haddadi has the highest turnover-per-minute ratio on the Suns. This may be what Hunter is referring to obliquely when he says Haddadi can only play limited minutes bc he is “out-of-shape.”

  • bill.thomas

    @Scott: Assuming Dwight would be happy in Cleveland.

  • Scott

    @Azbballfan -

    No, the Suns made the right move in not picking up the option. Wes Johnson looks good on the Suns mainly because they’re so bad. He should not be a $5m a year player (which is more than what Dudley makes). I’d offer him the same $3.5m per year, 2 year contract the Suns gave to Brown, and possibly even add a year in there (final year team option).

    WJ’s not playing all that well, but I’d still try to re-sign him because the Suns don’t have anyone better, he’s young, athletic, tall and long, he plays 2 positions, he’s willing to be a volume scorer, and he has a high release point.

  • bill.thomas

    I was wrong !!!!!!!!! Haddidi, Marshall and Beasley are almost in a statistical dead-heat for turnovers per minute.

    Congrats, guys. At least Haddidi has an excuse in his long layoff.

  • bill.thomas

    Not sure why Scola decided to chime in on that tonight. Maybe he didn’t want to feel left out.

  • Scott

    BTW, here’s a list of players who WON’T be in the draft:

    Alex Poythress
    Willie Cauley
    Mitch McGary
    Dario Saric
    PJ Hairston
    Patric Young
    Jahii Carson

    I don’t think any of these guys were very high on anyone’s draft list, but look for them next year, maybe.

  • Scott

    @bill -

    It was a strategy the Wolves were using. They clogged the paint and held their arms out. The Suns fell into that trap all night long.

    For that matter, the Wolves also scored a ton in the paint, and the Suns fouled them, leading to a lot of free throws which the Wolves hit.

    Between the FTs (17 of 19) and the TOs (18 v 28), the Wolves had a fairly easy night of it.

    As for who makes turnovers and why … Marshall has to learn how to penetrate without turning the ball over, and to score on a planned, practiced move instead of forcing a pass through the hands of an opposing player. It will take a while; he’s a rookie. Probably he has to keep at it till “the game slows down for him.”

    Beasley, FWIW, also gets most of his TOs when driving into traffic in the paint. He doesn’t really guard the ball when he drives.

    If Johnson was driving into the paint more, he’d be getting them too. His handle needs work, esp. if he’s going to play at SG.

  • DBreezy

    Marshall needs to learn not to challenge Mt. Stiemsma…..

  • bill.thomas

    @D-Breezy: I was trying to research a few weeks ago what the deal was with Stiemsma. I had the vague recollection that the Celts released him or did not resign him, or, was he somehow traded to Minnie?

    If he was avail. on the open market, that is just one more potentially good young player that Blanks disregarded.

    BTW, Blanks’ wife will never need a vasectomy.

  • bill.thomas

    Oops, got that wrong, Blanks himself will never need one. I was thinking of it from the point of view of his poor wife.

  • bill.thomas

    @Scott: I think we should just suck next year.

    Sounds like a good draft list. Best way to assure pick No. 1 is to trade Gogi. FREE DRAGIC !!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Lakers would be a great destination for him. They could amnesty Kobe and take Dragic and the Bad Seed off of our hands. A total de novo rebuild.

    FREE DRAGIC !!!

  • bill.thomas

    BTW, I have a hack license and will gladly drive Blanks to Armageddon !!!!

  • bill.thomas

    AMNESTY BLANKS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    @Scott: I can drive into the paint and turn the ball over, and I’ll do it for $1000 per game. I’m cheaper than Marshall. I’m a Bill Veeck special.

  • bill.thomas

    I wonder what Blanks’ salary would get him in unemployment benefits. Probably enough to live on.

  • bill.thomas

    We should reassign Lance Blanks to a janitorial job at the arena. Slightly overqualified, but well within the margin of error. And tips can be accepted !!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    Come on Lance, I’ll meet you anywhere, Bitch !!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    What a money-eating punk !!!!!!!!!!!

  • bill.thomas

    He should be on a street corner begging !!!

  • Ty-Sun

    I was just looking over this website that breaks down team by team the draft picks acquired by teams and the conditions of those picks.

    http://basketball.realgm.com/nba/draft/future_drafts/detailed

  • Ty-Sun

    I forgot to mention that the site explains that the “phantom” Minnesota 1st round pick owed to the Suns is top 12 protected so hopefully Minn will finish next season with the 13th worst record in the NBA. I’m actually glad they didn’t do better this year because if they had fallen out of the bottom 12 then the Suns would have gotten Memphis’ 1st round pick which will be in the mid 20′s.

  • Lance Blanks

    Dear Suns fans,

    I personally wanted to stop by VOTS and address some negative comments which have been brought to my attention via Lon Babby and our social media department.

    First and foremost I must say that in no way shape or form is my tenure with the Phoenix Suns over. Any individual or media outlet reporting my employment status as terminated is simply misinformed. I still am very much serving in the capacity of GM for the Suns, and will continue to do so unless otherwise notified by Lon Babby or Robert Sarver.

    Secondly, I know that this job is not one which typically wins you much popularity. In an ideal circumstance you almost want anonymity with the job. Most organizations can achieve that with their fanbase. Yet, from the onset of taking this position there has been a fervent voice of displeasure over the direction the franchise is heading in. I want to let it be known that opinions are fine. I will continue to make moves which I feel benefit the Suns franchise not just now but for years to come.

    The good news I want to leave you with is in our progress of the upcoming draft. I just got done using Lon Babby’s laptop which has a unique tool to analyze metrics of the draft. Those metrics go beyond stats. They also factor in what is called a “team symmetry index” which automatically calculates how a player helps our team chemistry. This is vital as we can determine not just raw stats, but run a simulation of how a player will conduct himself over the course of an NBA season. We are extremely pleased by some of the preliminaries and feel we can accurately predict who would be an ideal culture fit here in Phoenix.

    I want to help everyone understand one thing… Growing a garden isn’t something that takes one day. It’s a process that requires “cultivating the soil” if you will. I feel in time we can have a garden of amazing results, and build a culture of success which will lead this franchise to new heights.

    Best Regards,

    Lance Blanks. (General Manager Phoenix Suns)

  • Azbballfan

    I still think the Suns needed to pick up Johnsons option instead of declining it

    the worst thing you can do is give someone a fat contract for half a year of work

    having his option picked up and him not being a free agent at the end of the year gives us real evaluation time

    If Johnson had come in and played poorly, the Suns could have left it that, but now they have yet another decision to make

    if Blanks stays on with the Suns i hope we do awesome in this draft,i really do, its just that given our track record of passing over the wrong players, even players we worked out, its hard for me to be convinced we will suddenly understand how to get impact talent on this team

    which reminds me i mentioned Bismack Biyomobo in a previous post, just in time he comes out with a 13 point 17 rebound 2 block game in a win

    if he ever develops anything resembling an offensive game he will be a really nice player

  • Watty

    If Wesley Johnson gets a fat contract, I’m sure it wont be from the suns. 2 or 3 million per for 3 yrs with the last being a player option is what I think he ll get offered. Lets be honest though if the suns hopes are hinged on re signings of players such as wj lets hope its just a step toward the goal of landing Wiggins, and not cause they actually think wj is a good player.

  • DBreezy

    @Bill Thomas,

    I believe the Celts liked Stiemsma, but he got lost in the numbers game as the Celts added veteran players that were more costly.

    @Azbballfan,

    The decision time for WJ’s option was last fall and the Suns declined, which was appropriate. He will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Slim chance of Babby giving him a long contract imo. Looking at the market and his limited body of good work, I actually think he’ll end up in the 1-2M per range, unless it’s a one year deal then it could possibly be higher. He’s improved, but he’s still basically just a spot shooter, who’s defensive intensity has waned greatly as his offensive consistency has improved. He’s not an elite shooter like say Reddick, so how much are teams willing to pay for what he does? He’s basically a poor man’s James Jones with less of a track record.

  • DBreezy

    @Ty-Sun,

    The only way the Wolves end up at 13 next season is if they end up with more injuries or Adelman leaves and doesn’t get replaced with a good coach. They’ll probably be able to retain Pek, get Love back, and they should be able to find a replacement 2 for Roy in the draft or free agency.

    Both the Wolves and the Thunder who own the Raps pick are in the current projected range of Shabazz for example and there are other prospects on the board that could work there too. Looking at the F/A market, with Adelman’s system and Rubio, they don’t really need to break the bank on a 2 if the bidding gets out of control. They just need someone with legit size who can knock down open shots and finish simple layups off cuts. In fact it wouldn’t surprise me if a healthy Budinger isn’t a solid player for them next season.

    The West is a gauntlet especially the quietly underrated Northwest Division. If Minny’s healthy and Portland rounds out it’s bench, which is likely, every team is capable of making the playoffs in that division. Suns have a lot of work to do because every team outside of Dallas and Sacramento is trending positive imo. It may be trendy to put the Lakers in there, but I tend to doubt it. Everything that could possibly go wrong for them this season did and they still may make the playoffs.

  • Scott

    @DBreezy -

    You may be right about the Suns making WJ the lower offer, which is what he’s worth, but I suspect the Suns will offer more fearing the prospect of having a completely unappealing team next year.

    If they were willing to pay $3.5m for Shannon Brown – and then not play him – they can easily turn around and give that money to WJ.

    Aside from WJ, I don’t anticipate the Suns will be players in the FA market this summer, unless it’s on the ultra cheap. I look for the Suns to fill out their roster with draft picks, players coming in on trades, and – if there’s room – summer league guys.

    As it is, with 3 picks coming to the Suns, I recommend the 2nd round pick be used on a foreign player who can continue developing overseas.

  • Azbballfan

    Hey Scott

    I woold love for the Suns to pick some foeign player as well

    i dont really know who the Suns could pick up?

    who is a foreign player we think about getting?

  • DBreezy

    @Scott,

    They can easily afford to pay WJ 3.5M, I just think the market will set his value lower and Babby will take advantage of it. It is the one thing he’s pretty good at, and my suspicion is that the Suns will be the only team that will be able to offer him a starting job. Even if they were to take a 3 like Porter or Shabazz, I think they’d pencil Wes in at the two as I don’t think they’re nearly as enamored with the notion of JD as a starter as they were last offseason.

    I agree that the Suns won’t be big players in free agency this summer, I expect that their busiest time will be in the lead up to the draft. The big question to me is who, if any of their veterans players to shed via trade. I expect the articles to paint it as a decision between outright tanking and competing, but I think it’s more nuanced than that.

    To me Gortat has to go. It’s not even about his game which there will be continued debate on, but because the Suns aren’t willing to pay him what he wants and likely can get on the market. Looking at how low the appetite for teams to add players like him at this year’s deadline due to cba changes, I expect the better deals will be earlier not later like in the past. I wouldn’t cry if they shipped Scola or Dudley, but I don’t think it’s necessary either. I think I would sit down with each after the season in the exit interviews and be honest about the rebuilding nature of the squad and the possibility that they could again see fluctuating minutes and roles next season to see where they’re at. If you get the sense one of them is going to be like Peaches, ship em.

  • azbballfan

    Yeah, i dont see Gortat or Scola in a uniform for the 2013-2014 season

    both are productive players but they just dont fit on a team in the start of a long rebuild

    i heard that Monta Ellis is going to opt out of his contract in Milwaukee

    i could see the Suns taking a shot at signing him to a deal, but really i would save my money

    unless the player is elite a their position, a really expensive deal is not really a good idea

    jermaine oneal has said he wants to play another year, he deserves to play on a better team than the Suns

    i could see Haddadi sticking around

    if i was a vet on the Suns though, i would expect to be dealt this summer