The Suns, battling for a playoff spot in the West, need every win they can get. Though their prospects looked good against the Timberwolves on Tuesday night. the Suns could not manage a win, falling 110-101.
It was a demoralizing loss. The Suns defense allowed Minnesota to score 34 points in the first quarter, but they locked down afterwards. holding Minnesota to 41 points in the second and third quarter. However, 35 points in the final quarter, including ending on a 18-6 run, doomed the Suns.
The Wolves were without starting center Nikola Pekovic, and the Suns managed to outrebound the Wolves 50-38. The Suns biggest killers were turnovers (19) and lack of transition defense. It was also a rare occasion where the Suns lost a fast-paced games. Normally they rule the field in those circumstances, but tonight was the exception to a lot of rules.
Markieff Morris led the Suns with 24 points. its only the Suns second loss that he has scored 20+ in. Goran Dragic had a very mixed night. He put up 16 points, but had to sit with six fouls late n the fourth, which oddly correlated with the stalling of the Suns offense. Suns fans held their breathe in the third, when Dragic went down with an ankle injury. He struggled to get up and was evaluated. After having hid ankle taped, he came back, and looked okay until he fouled out.
Ish Smith did perform admirably in his place. He put up seven points, seven assists, and four steals. He played with a lot f heart, as usual, and is really beginning to earn his minutes. Leandro Barbosa had to rest with a sprained toe, so Archie Goodwin got significant time once again. He finished with 10 points and five boards, and at halftime was the Suns leading scorer. Also, PJ Tucker continued his new rebounding streak with a career-best 16 boards.
The Suns drop to 33-23. They are still in the playoff picture, but the gap is narrowing. They’ve got to forget this second straight heartbreaking lost immediately, as they travel to Utah tomorrow.