PHOENIX - DECEMBER 15: Michael Beasley #8 of the Minnesota Timberwolves drives the ball against Grant Hill #33 and Robin Lopez #15 of the Phoenix Suns during the NBA game at US Airways Center on December 15 2010 in Phoenix Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that by downloading and or using this photograph User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
1 Total Update since December 15, 2010
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Phoenix Suns were able to score pretty much at will against the Minnesota Timberwolves and they did a fantastic job rebounding the ball, but defensively they continue to struggle. In a game that shouldn't have been this close, Phoenix needed a big 19-7 fourth quarter run to take control of the game and win 128-122.
It's a win and a nice close-out against a young, tired team, but you can't be pleased with all the open shots the Wolves got in this game -- they shot 53.8 percent on the night. The Suns are last in the league in opponent field goal percentage allowed.
"It's a win. Right now that's the best thing that could happen to us. We just needed a win," Coach Alvin Gentry said, adding, "We have got to continue to get better defensively."
For the most part, the Suns players were relatively satisfied with their effort and just seemed happy to have played well on the offensive end.
Aside from the resurgent Suns offense -- which had been missed in the last three games -- the biggest positive was the rebounding. The Suns were dead last in the league in defensive rebounding percentage going into this game while the Timberwolves were second in offensive rebound rate. In this game, however, the Suns game out with a purpose and benefited from the return of Robin Lopez to the lineup after missing 14 games with a left knee injury.
Phoenix out-rebounded Minnesota 46-39 and held Kevin Love to his season average of 16 per game. Channing Frye had nine rebounds for Phoenix, while Robin Lopez and Jason Richardson each had eight. Lopez added 12 points (4-9) and played a solid, but rusty 23 minutes.
"I think that's a little bit of will, a little bit of focus. Channing (Frye) and I and the whole team, we were talking about making sure they didn't get too many second chance points and on the flip side we felt that we were able to crash the boards ourself, offensively," Lopez said after the game. He reported no pain or soreness in his knee.
In his continuing quest to find a bench rotation that works, Gentry didn't play Josh Childress in the game and instead gave 28 minutes to Jared Dudley (11 points, two rebounds). The bench scored 34 points, but defensively weren't very good.
The Suns were led offensively by a bounce-back performance from Richardson, who finished with 29 points, and Steve Nash, who had 19 assists and 11 points. The Suns hit 15 three-point shots (15-27), including seven from Frye, which ties his career-high.
Frye said the came into the game determined to take every open shot he had. He wanted to be aggressive and it paid off, "I've got to get back to Channing of old and that's just, you don't have that hand up that ball's going up."
The Timberwolves got 23 points from Kevin Love, but repeatedly showed their youth with multiple mental errors like Corey Brewer leaving Steve Nash open to double-team Channning Frye, who was being marked by Darko Milicic. Timberwolves Coach Kurt Rambis talked about his team's mistakes.
"We just made a bunch of mistakes in our defensive coverage...The vast majority of it was our weak side defense didn't do their job because of the way they changed sides of the floor and Nash's vision."
The Suns leave Thursday for a three-game road trip with games against the Dallas Mavericks, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. The defense is going to have to be better than this to win any of those games.
over 2 years ago Update 0 comments
The Phoenix Suns (11-12) are well-rested, re-energized and will have Robin Lopez back in the lineup tonight when they face the visiting Minnesota Timberwolves (6-19). The Timberwolves have an interesting team this year with the addition of Michael Beasley and Darko Milicic, who are playing well for Kurt Rambis after struggling with other teams. And, of course, the big attraction is the league's leading rebounder, Kevin Love, who plays an old-school type of game.
"Our team needs to learn that if they don't play hard every night, we are not going to win," Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said. "We did not give a maximum effort. We gave them too many second chance opportunities and turned the ball over too many times."
The Minnesota back court is shaky, at best, but even moreso with a banged up Luke Ridnour and Jonny Flynn. This should be a good game for the Suns' Jason Richardson to re-assert himself after three straight poor shooting performances.
Steve Nash will also be looking to regain his shooting form, which he seems to have lost since suffering a groin injury earlier in the season. He's worked with his personal strength and conditioning coach over the past few days and hopes to be on the mend.
"Since I got hurt, I've been shooting like 20 percent from three, so it's been really difficult for me. Hopefully, if I get healthy again, I can obviously shoot it better," Nash said about his 2-for-10 three-point shooting so far in the month of December.
The injury has impacted his balance and rhythm, both of which have been frustrating for him. He didn't sound positive that he's fixed everything yet, but is just focused on being efficient and effective elsewhere on the floor even if his long-range shot isn't falling.
Phoenix, which is 6-5 overall at home, hasn't lost three in a row at US Airways Center since Jan. 16-31, 2009. The Suns have won five straight over Minnesota by an average of 18.0 points and have won seven of the past eight meetings in the series held in Phoenix.
The game tips at 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET) and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona and 620 KTAR radio. Fans can follow along with the live game thread at Bright Side of the Sun.