Scorching Suns Too Much For Wolves in 114-90 Win





Mark Remme
Wolves Editor/Writer

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Timberwolves coach Rick Adelman’s message was short and sweet both to his players and to the media after Monday’s 114-90 loss to the Phoenix Suns at Target Center. Minnesota’s six-game losing streak correlates with effort, and it’s something he expects the team to correct before the end of the season.

“We need to find a way to get energy and draw from each other,” Adelman said. “I just told them, ‘How do you want to finish the season? Every team we play is playing for something. We’ve got to respond.’”

There was no response on Monday, as the red-hot Suns rolled into Minneapolis, stunned the Wolves with their sharp shooting and left town with their 11th win in 16 games. The win helped Phoenix keep pace with Denver for the Western Conference’s eighth and final playoff spot—the Suns are one game out—and in the process continued Minnesota’s April woes.

The Suns shot a season-best 57.3 percent from the floor on Monday, and the Wolves couldn’t keep up. Guard JJ Barea said the reason Minnesota won their last matchup with Phoenix, a 127-124 meeting on March 12, is because the Timberwolves simply out-shot the Suns.

That was not the case this time around. Minnesota connected on 38.6 percent of its shots and shot 26 percent in the first quarter.

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Meanwhile, Phoenix never stopped coming.

“We, as a unit, have to play defense,” guard Martell Webster said. “And we’re not doing that right now.”

Phoenix (30-27) got production from their starters, most notably 17 points from Shannon Brown and 14 points and five assists from Steve Nash, but aside from their starting back court the Suns got most of their punch from the bench.

The Suns scored 66 of their 114 points off the bench on Monday. Markieff Morris had 21 on 9-of-15 shooting, while Sebastian Telfair had 14 and Michael Redd had 13.

“That’s the thing about Phoenix,” forward Derrick Williams said. “They’re going to keep coming at you and you have to be ready for it.”

Minnesota fell behind 21-18 after the first and trailed 53-45 at the half. The Wolves went into halftime on 7-2 run to end the second quarter and quickly cut the lead to five in the third thanks to baskets by Love, Johnson and Barea.

But the Suns quickly took control of the game from that point forward, taking a 56-51 lead and adding a 21-4 run over the next five minutes. That lead ballooned to 26 points midway through the fourth.

“We have to find it,” Adelman said. “The coaches, the players, everybody. The season’s not over, and we have to understand that.”

Wolves forward Kevin Love scored 25 points and added 13 rebounds in the game. He had four offensive boards on the night, one fewer that Phoenix as a team.

Barea finished with 16 points and five assists, while forward Michael Beasley had 12 points, center Nikola Pekovic had 11 and Williams had 10.

Minnesota couldn’t capitalize on the Suns’ miscues. The Wolves scored 16 points off 17 Phoenix turnovers, while the Suns took Minnesota’s 14 turnovers and turned them into 24 points.

But Webster said that defense is the key to turning this losing streak around, and it starts from within. The Wolves (25-33) need to find a way to dig deep and begin getting stops, because with their next five games coming against playoff contenders, every team is hungry for a win.

It begins Wednesday at Denver.

“(Defense) has to be on all the time, 48 minutes,” Webster said. “We showed spurts of it, but that will never win you games, that will never get you into the postseason.”


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