Suns News

Newsroom Notes: Suns Tame Wolves

Hill was 8-of-12 from the floor Thursday.
(Barry Gossage/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Stefan Swiat, Suns.com
Posted: March 1, 2012

Over the last few seasons, the Suns have manhandled the Timberwolves, winning eight-straight games over them coming into Thursday. But this isn’t your mom and pop’s Timberwolves anymore.

Injected with core of youthful talent, Minnesota is the hunt for its first playoff appearance since 2004, while the Suns are attempting to work their way back into it. However, after falling behind by 10 in the first half, the Suns turned up the intensity and captured a 104-95 home victory over the up-and-coming Timberwolves.

“For one, we were a little rusty, missing shots that we normally would make,” Suns guard Jared Dudley said. “I thought defensively we just picked it up a notch. Rebounding-wise, I thought we had a lot more energy there too.”

It was Phoenix’s first contest since the All-Star break, with the Suns collectively renewing their pledge to become a postseason club. The Suns asserted themselves on the offensive end, shooting 53 percent from the floor for the night.

All-Star Steve Nash led the Suns attack with 13 points, a game-high 17 assists and eight rebounds, while Grant Hill led all Suns in scoring with 20 points. Marcin Gortat (17 points), Channing Frye (14), Jared Dudley (12) and Shannon Brown (12) rounded out the rest of the Suns in double figures.

The Suns, who outscored the Wolves in the paint by eight, held the Wolves to 39.5 percent shooting on the night. Minnesota’s All-Star, Kevin Love, ended up with 23 points, but on just 8-of-25 shooting.

“We were shooting the ball well throughout the game,” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “It was just a matter of coming up with stops.”

The Suns host the Clippers tomorrow at home at 8:30 p.m.

Post-All-Star Evaluation

Heading into the second half of the season, the All-Star Break gave Coach Gentry a bit of time to reflect about what his team needs to improve upon.

“For us, it gave us a chance to take a deep breath and know that coming back we have a ton of work to do,” he said. “We have 32 games left to play and we have to win a majority of them if we want to stay in the mix for the playoffs.”

The areas of emphasis for his team in the second half of the season will be improving their performance on the boards, managing the turnovers and then completing the defensive possessions by coming up with the ball.

Against the Wolves, the Suns outrebounded them 44-37.

“I was most proud of the way we handled the rebounding (tonight),” Gentry said.

Nash vs. Rubio

There have been some recent comparisons between the Suns’ Steve Nash and Minnesota’s Ricky Rubio. Here’s a quick look at how they compare statistically (coming into tonight):

Nash: 13.9 points and 10.9 assists on 54-percent shooting from the floor and 40-percent shooting from three-point land. Nash is first in the league in assists and first amongst all guard in field goal percentage.

Rubio: 10.8 points and 8.4 assists on 36-percent from the floor and 35-percent from three-point land. He’s currently second in the league in steals and first among rookies in assists.

Here’s what Nash thought about the upstart Rubio: “It was great to see first-hand what type of player he is. He definitely lives up to the billing and is a very, very good player, clever and plays with a good energy.”

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