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

Time: 12:30 p.m. MST


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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.

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