Preview: Phoenix Suns (40-29) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (34-33)


Time: 12:30 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

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Time is running out for the Minnesota Timberwolves to make a run toward a playoff bid, and five games back of the Western Conference’s ninth-place team, the Phoenix Suns, a last-ditch effort toward a run might depend on how they do in hosting Jeff Hornacek’s team Sunday afternoon.

Phoenix finds itself a game out of the final playoff spot, though the eighth-place Memphis Grizzlies do have the tiebreaker. The Suns beat the Detroit Pistons on Friday night, and the win also kept them 1.5 games behind the Dallas Mavericks in the playoff chase.

Will the Suns keep Dieng and Love off the glass?

Nikola Pekovic haunted the Phoenix Suns in a slim 104-103 win at Minnesota in the teams’ first meeting this season. When Pekovic was injured for the second meeting in Phoenix, it didn’t matter as Minnesota won 110-101.

Here the T-Wolves find themselves on Sunday, witnessing the breakout campaign of rookie big man Gorgui Dieng. The former Louisville star is coming off a 22-point, 21 rebound game in Minnesota’s 129-106 loss to the Houston Rockets. It was the third double-double in a row for the lanky 6-foot-11 big man, and it’ll be on Miles Plumlee, Alex Len and the Morris twins to hold their own against a very active rebounder.

Between Dieng and Love, it’ll be tough on the Suns, who were outrebounded by 14 Friday against Detroit.

How easily do the shots come for Phoenix?

Minnesota hasn’t held an opponent to below 48 percent shooting in their last six games and since a March 7 contest against the Detroit Pistons — not saying much since it was those Detroit Pistons, who Phoenix outshot with 53 percent in the fourth quarter to 23 percent on Friday in this sort of way.Screen Shot 2014-03-22 at 4.18.17 PM

Point is, the Suns got good looks at the rim toward the end of the game thanks to an attacking Bledsoe.

On Thursday, the Timberwolves allowed 129 points to a Houston team missing Dwight Howard. The Rockets hit 57.6 percent of its shots

Will Frye or Markieff Morris provide a spark?

Channing Frye has traditional held his own against Kevin Love, maybe not from a rebounding perspective but from a defensive one. But Love had his way with the Suns last time out, scoring 33 points on 10-for-22 shooting while hitting three threes and getting to the foul line 14 times. He also grabbed 13 rebounds and recorded nine assists.

Frye hasn’t scored in double-figures but once in the last five games, and he’s shooting 37 percent over his last 10.

Morris scored 24 points against the Timberwolves last time out, and Hornacek would be wise to get him involved early on if Love gets going. Making the All-Star forward work on defense will maybe lead to a missed shot or two down the stretch, which might be needed to stop a desperate team. In the last nine games, Morris has scored in double-figures and in six of those has shot 50 percent or better from the field.

  • EBJM

    Frye plays less than 20 minutes and the Suns win!

  • foreveris2long

    Big game for big players. Don’t know if the young guys are ready for playoff intensity basketball but the experience will be priceless. Play tough today Suns

    If you saw Stanford upset Kansas and Duke lose to Mercer you might appreciate the belief amongst some that this draft is not as great as some seem to think. I continue to believe it does not have any potential superstars. As a late 1st round or 2nd round pick at power forward I hope the suns take a look at Powell for Stanford who is 6’10″ avgs about 13 a game and almost 7 boards a night. He has handles and likes to play inside or out. Nice player in a draft that is kind of weak at the 4 spot.

    DBreezy, regarding Monroe I think we have to anticipate a little how he plays with a good point guard and in a front court that is not as crowded as it is in Detroit as well as with good perimeter shooters. If a team gets him who has a center who can hit a 15 footer and a good point guard, I think Monroe will be a double double guy most nights. I think he has a ton of them in Detroit on a bad team. How much is he worth, I think a lot but time will tell if he is worth a max deal.

    Go Suns

  • Dave:f32

    Its still early in the 2nd qtr, buy Suns are down big. Score is 49-29

  • DBreezy

    Foreveris,

    Monroe is ‘worth’ a max deal because the market says he is, because his agent is David Falk, and because he’s a RFA and it’s going to take numbers that high for Detroit to even consider not matching. I think he is a very solid player who will give you double doubles as you said. Naturally his offense will be more efficient with better pg play, but he isn’t a S/R player on a team that will heavily feature that play as long as Goran and Bledsoe are around. Because of those two, he will spend a lot of his time the way he does now: floating around the elbow area to leave the middle open, shooting FT line jumpers, or scoring off dives and O boards. I don’t see him as a horse that you can go to 20+ times to on the box a night. He’s a strong passer and smart player, who no one will be mad at as a player. I just don’t think he’ll be worth 15M a season to this team. The more depressing thing to me, is that I can’t really suggest a viable alternative to their issues at the 4.

  • BCrayZ

    Last time we played in Minny?

    Frye held Love to 4 of 20 & we won the game.

    Will need as much of that as we can get to 5-1 since Eric returned to our starting line up. Suns have won 25 of 26, when scoring 110 or more.

    MUST score 110 or more. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • Dave:f32

    @BCrayZ not if Minny gets to 130 before the Suns score that 110. No defensive effort! Allowing Minny more than 70 pts in the 1st half

  • Dave:f32

    Score 94-82 in the 3rd. Twolves still up. First team to 100 points wins…

  • john

    This “defense” is absolutely atrocious. Stupid fouls. No effort. It’s just pathetic. Turning it off now. Forget this crap.

  • Dave:f32

    @john better turn the game back on or you will miss the comeback… Suns down 1 pt in the 4th. Twolves 106-105

  • phx suns fan in la

    The game was unwatchable in the forst half now its very entertaining 107 108 5 30 left in the 4th

  • phx suns fan in la

    Suns win !!

  • Raffi AKA Anonymous

    Incredible