NBA action returned to the Target Center Friday night as the Timberwolves hosted the Phoenix Suns, the first game for both teams since the All-Star break. Phoenix shook up its roster at Thursday’s NBA trade deadline, picking up Danny Granger, John Salmons, Brandon Knight, and Marcus Thornton. None of those players were available for Phoenix Friday night. Despite all of those moves, the Timberwolves made just as much noise with one trade at the deadline, acquiring “The Kid” for one last run. Kevin Garnett will make his debut for the Wolves this coming Wednesday night against the Wizards.
As for Friday night’s action, the Suns opened up with Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green, PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris, and Alex Len. The Pups countered with Ricky Rubio, Kevin Martin, Andrew Wiggins, Anthony Bennett, and Nikola Pekovic.
Minnesota got off to a quick start, specifically Kevin Martin who scored 8 of the team’s first 10 points. After two back to back buckets by Andrew Wiggins, the Wolves led 14-9 and led to the game’s first timeout. The Wolves wound up building a 9 point lead before the Suns started to chip away. The Morris twins largely led that effort and after the 1st Quarter, the Wolves held a 26-24 lead.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, with about three and a half minutes left in the opening frame, Anthony Bennett was rolled over by two Suns players and had to head to the locker room.
The second quarter was really a thing of beauty for the Wolves and one to forget for the Suns. Phoenix missed shots, free throws, turned the ball over carelessly and allowed the Wolves build a double digit lead. Minnesota outscored the Suns 26-18 in the quarter and took a 52-42 lead into halftime.
Here are a few additional halftime notes/stats:
- Phoenix shot 36% (16-44) in the first half, while Minnesota shot 42% (19-45).
- The main reason the Wolves only shot 42% was Pekovic’s 1-7 and Rubio’s 2-6 from the field. Ouch.
- Kevin Martin and Andrew Wiggins led the Wolves with a combined 24 points, with both shooting 5-8 from the field in the first half.
The Suns came storming out (see what I did there?) in the third quarter to tie the game with a 15-5 run within the first six minutes of the quarter. Things may have been a little more negative had this not happened …
This kid https://t.co/1bE69kD3I2
— Zach Harper (@talkhoops) February 21, 2015
Which was preceded by this from the Timberwolves official Twitter account …
— MN Timberwolves (@MNTimberwolves) February 21, 2015
Seriously, let’s just pretend it is 2004 for the next few months. Deal? Deal.
Despite giving up 35 points in the quarter, the Wolves took an 80-77 lead into the final 12 minutes as Zach LaVine drove to the basket for a layup and the foul with a second left on the clock. Unfortunately, LaVine missed the free throw thereby proving that he doesn’t want Wolves fans to only say nice things about him.
The fourth quarter was phenomenal from a fan perspective. The teams combined for 63 points and went back and forth, trading blows throughout. After multiple lead changes, the Wolves were in a position to close out the game after a Wiggins layup gave the Pups a 110-107 lead with 17 seconds left in the game. However, the Wolves missed three of their final four free throws giving the Suns a last second heave to pull off a miracle. Without a timeout to use the Suns had to launch a shot but decided to throw a pass and hope the clock malfunctioned. It didn’t and the shot the Suns did put up was after time expired (it missed anyway).
The final score of a highly entertaining game at Target Center: Minnesota 111, Phoenix 109. The Wolves are now off until Monday’s matchup in Houston against Kevin McHale and the Rockets. What year is it again?
- Markieff Morris led the Suns with 31 points, followed by an 11-10-6 (points-rebounds-blocks) performance from Alex Len.
- The Timberwolves missed 11 free throws on the evening (27-38) … some things never change.
- While led by Kevin Martin’s 28 points, Wiggins continues to come up with the big plays when the Wolves need them.
- While Rubio had a terrible night shooting (2-10), he finished with 10 points, 14 assists, and 8 rebounds. He deserves at least one vote for 5th place in NBA MVP balloting given how much he means to this club.