THE FACTS: In a game between two teams mired in rough seasons, the Minnesota Timberwolves played on Friday night with the sort of purpose that suggests that they are trying to improve and even win. The Phoenix Suns, by contrast, were a bit listless in the Timberwolves' 117-86 rout in Phoenix.
The Timberwolves (24-43), who led by as many as 35 points, got 20 points from Andrei Kirilenko and 18 off the bench from Dante Cunningham. Ricky Rubio also had a great all-round game with 12 points, eight assists, six rebounds and five steals.
The Suns were led by Goran Dragic with 13 points and 10 assists. The Suns (23-47) are now tied with Detroit for the fourth-worst record in the NBA. They are running last in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves (24-43) have the eighth-worst record.
The Suns' Jermaine O'Neal and Jared Dudley were ill and sat out. The Timberwolves' Chase Budinger played in his second game (back-to-back) since suffering a knee injury Nov. 10.
QUOTABLE:"If [the motivational] message is not getting across, then guys are going to find themselves in situations they wish they were not in. I have been on both ends of the spectrum, so I understand what they are going through and how to come out of it."
-- Suns coach Lindsey Hunter
QUOTABLE II: "Dante [Cunningham] was unbelievable. He was so active."
-- Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman
THE STAT: The Suns allowed an opponents' season-high 67 points in the first half.
QUOTABLE III: "I was worried the whole time. We're not used to that kind of lead."
-- Rick Adelman.
HOT: Cunningham shot 8-for-11.
GOOD MOVE: The Timberwolves didn't use anybody more than Rubio's 29 minutes.
ROOKIE WATCH: The T-Wolves' Alexey Shved had six points, five assists and one turnover in 13:32. For the Suns, Kendall Marshall shot 1-for-5 for three points, four assists and zero turnovers in 18:25. Also, Diante Garrett shot 2-for-6 for four points in 10:16.
FANTASY SPOTLIGHT: Budinger has put up 20 points in two back-to-back games after returning from his Nov. 10 knee injury. "I like the way Chase responded in a back-to-back," Adelman said. "Not only does he shoot the ball well, he's probably our best cutter."
NOTABLE: The T-Wolves broke a streak of 13 straight road losses at Western Conference opponents. ...The Suns are 2-7 since losing starting center Marcin Gortat to injury. ...The Suns were eliminated from the playoffs.
UP NEXT: For the Timberwolves, Sunday vs. Bulls, Tuesday @ Detroit, Wednesday vs. Lakers. For the Suns, Sunday vs. Nets, Wednesday @ Utah, Thursday vs. Kings.