Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (27-29) vs. Phoenix Suns (33-22)

Posted by on February 25th, 11:07 am

Time: 7 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

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The sight of the Phoenix Suns’ orange hasn’t been kind to Kevin Love in the past three years. In five games against Phoenix, the Minnesota Timberwolves power forward is shooting 35.5 percent.

Channing Frye has been a big part of that success, and he only missed one of the last five meetings last season because of his heart ailment. Love hardly played last year because of broken hands and a knee injury at the end of the year.

Now, both Frye and Love are healthy, and they’ll be engaged in one of the more intriguing NBA matchups Tuesday night in U.S. Airways Center. Few think of Frye as a defender who’s beefy enough to handle the league’s second-best rebounder and fourth-best scorer, who averages 13.2 boards along with 26.5 points per game. But Frye’s dealt some impressive defensive performances Love’s way in the last few years.

Maybe it comes to him easily because Love plays so similarly to Frye.

“Can’t give him much space,” Frye said. “I play him like I don’t want to be played and just try to stay on his hip and trust the guys behind me. He is going to score his points.”

Last time out, the Suns got a little lucky. In the only win of a five-game road trip following Eric Bledsoe’s knee injury, Phoenix pulled off a 104-103 win courtesy of Gerald Green’s game-winning jumper. In that Jan. 8 outing, Love was especially poor, going 4-for-20 from the field and scoring 15 points.

“Everyone is probably going to remind him of that, so it will be nice if you can let that go,” Frye joked after Monday practice.

So, will the Suns rebound from their first post-All-Star break loss to the Houston Rockets?

Onward to the pregame questions.

Will Kevin Martin or Nikola Pekovic play, and how does their presence or absence change the game?

Martin and Pekovic were both big parts of the T-Wolves’ offense in the teams’ first meeting this year. Martin is one of their few shooters and scored 20 points, while Pekovic seemingly turned the tide late in the game by taking it to Miles Plumlee.

Dante Cunningham and Chase Budinger have replaced that duo in the starting line as Pekovic deals with an ankle injury and Martin recovers from a broken hand. Both are game-time decisions, and how that plays out leading to the tip will help or hurt the Suns.

Which waterbug makes the difference?

Forget the starting point guard matchup between Goran Dragic and Ricky Rubio. Don’t forget it, I suppose, but we know that those two were going at it pretty handily last time out. Dragic was still figuring it out without Bledsoe and scored 26 points to go with nine assists — he was forcing it a bit, nonetheless. Rubio had eight assists and seven points.

Kentucky coach John Calipari coined the waterbug description two years ago when describing former Baylor Bears point guard Pierre Jackson, and it applies quite well to the two backup point guards who will square off tonight.

Ish Smith has been playing solid ball for Phoenix even though he was quiet in the loss to Houston. J.J. Barea is easily the most dangerous weapon coming off the depleted Minnesota bench, and he scored 21 Sunday as the Timberwolves lost to the Trail Blazers.

Who wins this battle?

Can the Suns limit Minnesota’s other scorers?

Whether Love does well or not, Minnesota hasn’t been getting enough elsewhere. And as the last meeting between the Suns and T-Wolves showed, even a full deck of cards for Rick Adelman’s team wasn’t enough.

Love missed two games this month because of injury but scored at least 30 points in seven of the nine games he has played in. The T-Wolves are 4-3 in those seven outings. If the Suns can keep Budinger, Barea, Cunningham and Corey Brewer limited, they’ll be in good shape.

Jeff Sanders contributed to this article

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 Preview

26 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 11:48 am

    Should be a relatively easy home win. Something tells me Frye has a solid all around game. Dragic and Green are gonna go off, should be fun to watch

  • 2 the real al // Feb 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    They need this one after dropping to 8th in the standings (with dallas and golden state winning their last couple of games and memphis right on their tail).

    Go Suns!

  • 3 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    On a sidenote: NBA announced today the intention to sell Jason Collins jersey.

    So let me get this straight (no pun intended), Collins jersey wasn’t in demand before but now that he’s come out as being gay, he should be celebrated? Really?

    Not for his basketball talents (which are by anyone’s standards; minimal)but for the fact he prefers men in the sack?

    That’s just not right. I know, money talks but still.

  • 4 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    Speaking of gay, where are EBJM and Smovas aka Smomovich?

    And what happened to “boy wonder”Ben?

    ;)

  • 5 HushPuppy // Feb 25, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    His jersey is in demand because of the social feat, the first openly gay player on one of the four major sports roster. I’m sure you know that but it’s not surprising. It’s a big deal to a large group of individuals, and that includes both homosexual and hetrosexual individuals. Downplay the social significance all you want, lots of people think it’s pretty stellar. And to answer your question, yes, really. He should be celebrated(for being himself), and so should the Nets for calling upon a basketball player when they were in need of one and not letting that player’s sexuality come in to play. Like Jason Kidd said, the media is the distraction, not the player. Dude just wants to play basketball, and Jason Collins basketball has always been a bench guy who can use up fouls and stand his ground.

    In time the goal is that none of this will even matter or be a big story, but until that time comes everyone should expect this to be a hot topic.

  • 6 hawki // Feb 25, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Hushpuppy

    Actually, Glenn Burke is acknowledged as the 1st openly gay player in US pro sports.
    He started in CF for the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series.
    He is credited for inventing the “high five” with Dusty Baker in 1977.
    “Everyone” knew but the press managed to keep a lid on it for the most part.
    Died of AIDS in 1995.

  • 7 HushPuppy // Feb 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Interesting! Thanks for the drop of knowledge Hawki.

  • 8 Al // Feb 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I just hope Frye and Markieff put up a fight in the glass against Love. Kevin better not get double the amount of rebounds of Frye and Kieff…combined. Phoenix always starts off slow and picks up momentum. That can’t keep happening. Sunday’s game was just horrible officiating in the 4th quarter that cost Phoenix in the final minutes. Suns need to build the lead and maintain it.

  • 9 Smovich // Feb 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    @ Sunsn7

    I typically have a lot of respect for men who put on a uniform, but you’re really making a case for an exception here.

  • 10 DZ // Feb 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Minnesota, Utah, New Orleans and Atlanta this week, ALL games the Suns should win. Minnesota should be the most difficult to win but I’m hopeful the Suns can go 4-0 this week and jump back up a notch or two in the standings.

    Dallas plays New Orleans, Chicago and San Antonio (first 2 at home, 3rd away). Golden State Plays Chicago, New York and Toronto (all away games). I expect them both to loose at least one of those games so if the Suns can go 4-0 this week it will help a lot. Memphis also has 4 games this week… Lakers, OKC, Cleveland, and Washington. I expect them to win 3 of those games (NOT the OKC game that they are playing at OKC).

    As much as I want this team to make the playoffs for me as a fan, I want them to make it even more for them. They have all played their asses off all year long and deserve a shot in the playoffs.

  • 11 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Hey Smovs, never asked for and dont need your respect. The reference to you and the others was a lighthearted joke and you know that. Just because I dont think gays should be celebrated anymore than I think straights should be celebrated for sexual preference.

    You lose respect for me for not sharing your viewpoint or not being politically correct about it? So be it

  • 12 Smovich // Feb 25, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    My comment was not in reference to the gay comment. I don’t have a problem with your views but you’ve been laying into me for some reason lately and I’m not sure why you feel you need to.

  • 13 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Damn man it’s not personal really. I only mentioned you guys cuz I remember the good ol’ days when everyone would drop in for games and postgame threads. Didn’t we all pretty much needle each other, good natured ribbing?

    I meant for you and EBJM to respond..but like that? Didn’t expect it because I wasn’t saying it to be offensive.

  • 14 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Gametime!

  • 15 EBJM // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    Hushpuppy, let me point something out about Jason Collins. In his second season, his brother Jarod was playing with John Amaechi in Utah.

    What would have made a significant statement would have been if Jason and John came out while they were actually playing ball TEN years ago.

    I find the timing too much of a coincidence that Jason waited until his career was through then attempted to use his sexual preference to guilt some club into signing him.

  • 16 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    Another solid showing so far by ARCHIE “kid quick” GRIFFIN

  • 17 EBJM // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Yeah! Sunsn7 has been laying into me lately too!

    What’s up with that?

  • 18 sunsn7isawesome // Feb 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm

    Idk I kinda like sunsn7 :D

  • 19 sunsn7 // Feb 25, 2014 at 9:22 pm

    I concur Awesome! ;)

    ..in all seriousness though, looks like the Suns are buying into their own hype again. Gave away another game

    On to Utah

  • 20 Anonymous // Feb 25, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    SMH. Time to tank.

  • 21 Luka // Feb 25, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    Typical performance by Frye. Picking up fouls all game. Not helping whatsoever on the glass. The Suns have up way too many layups and second chance points.

    Markieff had a decent night offensively. But as the case is with Frye gives you nothing else. I can’t really be impressed when I see 2 or 3 rebounds on the box score.

    The sense of urgency, the effort defensively isn’t there. Maybe Hornacek needs to bench Frye for a while and get more playing time for Len. I’m just getting fed up with having this same ol complaint.

  • 22 EBJM // Feb 25, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    I’ll admit, I waited until AFTER the game to post this BUT if Frye is so similar to Love; “Maybe it comes to him easily because Love plays so similarly to Frye”.

    Why does Frye suck and Love is an Super-Star?

    How is 13 rebounds “similar” to 5?

  • 23 Minnesota Timberwolves 110, Phoenix Suns 101 — Chopped up // Feb 25, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    […] To the questions from today’s game preview. […]

  • 24 BCrayZ // Feb 26, 2014 at 10:42 am

    Why does EBJM suck?

    Will he be man enough to accept my challenge?

    EBJM is weak. When will he pick a court for our challenge game?

    He never will. Runs scared from a retired guy in my 60′s. How does he have the nerve to say that Frye or anyone else is weak when he himself is the weakest of the weak?

  • 25 BCrayZ // Feb 26, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Im also “fed up” with Luka.

  • 26 HushPuppy // Feb 26, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    EBJM,

    Stating that Jason came-out to “guilt some club into signing him” is one of the more ignorant comments I have seen on this board. He had his reasons I’m sure but you of all people certainly don’t know them.

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