Wolves Lead Slips Away, Suns Win 127-120

Wolves Lose 127-120

Watching big leads get erased is something that isn’t anything new for the Minnesota Timberwolves this season, and that’s likely why they are on the outside looking in when it comes to the NBA playoffs. That was the theme again on Sunday afternoon at the Target Center when they let a 22-point lead slip away and fell 127-120 to the Phoenix Suns.

“It’s a tough loss,” said Wolves coach Rick Adelman. “We didn’t finish the game off. We had the lead and couldn’t get a stop and missed a couple of shots and they opened it up.”

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Wolves vs. Suns

The Wolves got off to a hot start, something that isn’t exactly new to this explosive offense. Behind a great all-around first quarter from Kevin Love (10 points, six rebounds and five assists), the Wolves jumped out to a 41-27 lead. Phoenix was hurt by foul trouble as Eric Bledsoe (two fouls) and Gerald Green (three fouls) were limited to a combined 6:59 of play in the opening 12 minutes. Corey Brewer and Kevin Martin scored nine points each for a Wolves squad that shot 64 percent (16-of-25) from the field. Goran Dragic led the Suns with seven points.

There was plenty of offense that continued throughout the second quarter. Defense? Not so much. The Wolves added on 32 more points, thanks to nine from Kevin Love, seven from Ricky Rubio, six from Dante Cunningham and rookie Shabazz Muhammad. What Adelman wasn’t a fan of was the team allowed 35 points. The Morris Twins (Markieef and Marcus) were big parts of this. At the break, the brothers combined for 24 points, while shooting 9-of-12 from the field and 4-of-4 from the 3-point line.

Adelman has talked about fending off a third quarter run from opponents a lot this season. His team was tested on Sunday in the third, as the Wolves opened the quarter shooting 2-of-10 compared to a mark of 7-of-12 from Phoenix. The Suns got it to 85-80, but after a give-and-go from Gorgui Dieng to Love, the Wolves went on a 7-0 run and led 103-93 going into the fourth.

And that’s when things fell apart.

The Wolves were outscored 34-17 in the quarter thanks to nine points from Bledsoe. Minnesota couldn’t buy a basket in the final quarter, going just 5-of-21 from the field.

“What was the biggest difference (between the third and fourth quarter)? We didn’t score,” Adelman said. “That’s probably the biggest difference.”

Love led the Wolves with 36 points, 14 boards, nine assists and two steals. Martin added 25 points, while Rubio had 19 points, nine assists and three steals. Brewer added 14 points. Minnesota shot 44 percent from the field.

Markieff Morris led Phoenix with 25 points and eight rebounds. Bledsoe added 21 points, while fellow guard Dragic added 18. P.J. Tucker had a nice game, scoring 19 points. The Suns shot 57.5 percent.

The Wolves are now 34-34 overall, six games back from the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Leader of the Pack: Kevin Love

Love had another classic “Kevin Love Game.” Finishing with 36 points, 14 boards and nine assists, Love has now handed out five or more assists in seven of his last eight games and has done so in 29 games this season. He entered with just 19 total games like that in his career. He also recorded his league-leading 22nd 20+ points, 10 + rebounds and 5 + assist game of the season and his 55th double-double.

Don’t Blink Highlight of the Night

With 8:48 left in the first quarter, Phoenix guard Goran Dragic started to push the ball after a Minnesota miss. Not so fast, Goran. Ricky Rubio picked Dragic’s pocket and made a no-look pass to a cutting Brewer for the monster dunk. That dunk put the Wolves down 8-9 and would start a 12-4 run. It also put a full Target Center on their feet during Sunday afternoon.

The Numbers Game

  • Today marked Minnesota’s 32nd game this season with 30 or more points in the first quarter, including its fifth straight contest.

  • It also marked the fourth time this season the Wolves have scored 40 points in the first quarter.

  • With 73 points, the Timberwolves marked their highest scoring half of the season. It also marked the team’s 10th time in team history recording 70 or more points in a first half.

  • Finishing with two 3-pointers, Love now has 16 straight games with two or more 3-points, the longest streak in the NBA this season.

  • Postgame Podcast

    Wolves 104, Kings 102

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    “You know, they’re a good team. You know, we scored over 70 in the first half. It’s tough to put up another 70 in the second half so, you know, I don’t know what it was.” — Wolves All-Star forward Kevin Love on what happened down the stretch with Minnesota’s offense.

    Next Up

    The Wolves hit the road tonight as they gear up to play the Memphis Grizzlies tomorrow at 7 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports North and WCCO 830-AM. The Wolves then come back home on Wednesday to host the Atlanta Hawks at 7 p.m. That game will air on Fox Sports North Plus and WCCO 830-AM. For ticket information for Atlanta’s game, head to timberwolves.com/wolvestix.

    For more news and notes on the team follow the Minnesota Timberwolves and Mark Remme on Twitter.