The Timberwolves kicked off a three game road trip on Tuesday night in Phoenix. Both teams came into the game well under .500 and fans are already thinking about what is the next step to bring each franchise back to the playoffs. I think it is safe to say that the Pups are significantly closer to those aspirations, but Tuesday night’s performance didn’t help the minds (or hearts) of either fan base. Here is how the night transpired.
There were no changes to the Wolves starting lineup – Rubio, Ridnour, Kirilenko, Williams, and Pekovic. The Suns opened up with Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, PJ Tucker, Luis Scola, and Marcin Gortat.
In the early stages of the game, the Wolves and Suns both struggled to make baskets and the Wolves managed to turn the ball over a few too many times. Going into the first timeout/break in the game the Suns held a 10-6 lead through 6+ minutes. Dr. James Naismith likely rolled over in his grave given the performance for the entire 12 minutes of the 1st quarter. At the end of the 1st, the Suns held a 16-15 lead.
The Suns put together a 10-0 run but it could have, and should have been, much worse. Through 18 minutes of the game, the Wolves had 21 points. Seriously. They were shooting sub-30%, turning the ball over, and being outrebounded 25-17 going into the TV timeout with under 6 minutes to go in the half.
Rather than belabor this any further, the Suns held a 47-33 lead at halftime. Here are a few halftime thoughts through my Wolves lens:
- Mentioned this on Twitter, but if the Wolves continue to lose more often than not, does that make Adelman more or less likely to return next season?
- Derrick Williams was the only bright spot, with 13 & 6 in the 1st half
- Finally – 33 points? Seriously?
Coming out to start the 3rd quarter, Alexey Shved was in the starting lineup replacing Andrei Kirilenko. Unfortunately, this wasn’t Adelman trying to tweak the lineup to cause a spark, it was due to another injury. AK47 suffered a calf strain and was deemed out for the rest of the game. We’ll see the severity of the injury in the coming days and if Andrei will miss any more time.
The 3rd quarter itself was more of the same from the Wolves and Suns. The Pups won the quarter 18-11 (ugh) and were only down 58-51 going into the final frame. Derrick Williams remained the only Pup worth talking about, but he was also shooting 3-10 from the FT line through three quarters. That said, he already posted a double-double, with 18 & 10 through three.
After starting out very slow in the 4th quarter, the Wolves went on a 7-0 run to cut the Suns lead to 6 points. Pekovic started to come to life in the 4th quarter as well, quietly moving into double-double range. The Wolves were met with a healthy dose of Wesley Johnson, who hit several three pointers, as well as a few baskets in/around the paint.
In the final two minutes, the Wolves were able to take a 76-75 lead. After Rubio hit one of two FT’s, the Suns were able to tie the game up with a running layup by Gortat. Rubio then proceeded to air-ball a mid-range jumper to put the game into overtime, which is exactly what the NBA and its fans didn’t need from these two teams.
The overtime period was more of the same from both teams; bad shooting, a lack of scoring, and turnovers. Ricky Rubio looked completely gassed and Adelman pulled him for the final few minutes. With time running down, Alexey Shved drove to the rim and missed a layup that would have given the Wolves the lead (and likely win). The Suns escape with an 84-83 win after outscoring (or surviving) the Wolves 7-6 in OT.
Keys of the Game
- Shooting – While the Suns were equally as bad, the Wolves shot 31-90 FG’s, including 5-19 from 3PT range and were 16-25 from the FT line. Dear lord.
- Bench play – Aside from JJ Barea – and you should probably account for all of his negatives here too – the Suns bench was widely superior Tuesday night, with Wes Johnson, Markieff Morris, and Jermaine O’Neal all with double digit points.
Three Stars of the Game
- Jermaine O’Neal – Seriously, I mean who else does this go to? A double-double from a 60 year old NBA player deserves to be recognized. My only other option was “(Leave blank)”.
- Derrick Williams – 21 & 12 and another relatively solid outing for DWill.
- Wesley Johnson – Arguably the worst 1st round pick in the Timberwolves history, Johnson managed to have a career night with 14 points and 9 rebounds off the Suns bench. Of course he did.