The Phoenix Suns had beat the Minnesota Timberwolves nine-straight times coming into this game and desperately wanted this win over one of the teams ahead of them in the playoff standings. But wanting a win and defending well enough to get a win are two different things.
The Suns defensive rotations looked off and perhaps confused as the Timberwolves were consistently able to move the ball and find open looks either in the paint of behind the arc. Minnesota finished the game shooting 56 percent from the field and an incredible 64% from from three (14-22).
"We shot the ball. We have to have people shoot the ball," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "The other thing we did was we really moved it. We had 15 assists in the first half when they came out to double team Kevin (Love) and we were trying to change things up and our guys move the ball."
Offensively, Phoenix was able to hang for most of the game as they shot 52 percent themselves and only turned the ball over seven times. It wasn't enough though, as the visitors pulled away in the final few possessions from a game that was tied at 114 with about four minutes remaining.
The teams traded baskets until Luke Ridnour hit a runner which was followed by a miss from Nash and two free throws from Kevin Love. That exchange gave Minnesota a three-point lead with 38 seconds that would prove decisive.
Kevin Love led all scorers with 30 points but had just seven rebounds. Jared Dudley (28 points, nine rebounds) and Steve Nash (25 points, 10 assists) led the Suns.
"We just couldn't catch up with them in rotations. On one hand, we're disappointed and we've got to do a better job on the other hand you've got to tip your hat, they made a lot of big shots," Nash said after the game.
The Suns got a strong effort off the bench from Robin Lopez (10 points), Shannon Brown (11 points) and Sebastian Telfair (11 points) but that wasn't enough to counter 15 each from Wayne Ellington and Michael Beasley and 19 points from Derrick Williams.
Marcin Gortat struggled with foul trouble through most of the game and finished with just eight points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of play.
The Suns are off Tuesday and then host the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night.