Timberwolves get back on track by topping short-handed Suns
Minnesota has now won 5 of its last 6 games
MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Timberwolves did something Friday they’ve struggled to do all season — taking it to a clearly lesser opponent.
Minnesota downed a severely shorthanded Phoenix 121-116 at Target Center, bouncing back from a disappointing loss in Detroit.
That Detroit loss was the latest in a series of subpar performances against teams the Timberwolves are expected to handle. It’s an issue that has plagued Minnesota all season.
That’s what made Friday’s contest potentially troublesome. Phoenix has been a prominent power in the West for years, but this current version has been battered by injuries. Phoenix is missing Chris Paul, Devin Booker, Cameron Johnson, Cameron Payne and Landry Shamet. Those injuries have played a large role in the Suns (21-23) dropping 11 of their last 13 games after a 19-12 start to the campaign.
It also makes them an easy opponent to overlook. But Minnesota did not do that Friday. The Timberwolves brought a strong energy from the get-go, jumping out to a 12-point lead in the game’s first six minutes. They never really looked back from there, as Minnesota maintained a comfortable margin for the contest’s duration.
Minnesota’s only true lackluster stretch of play came in the fourth, in which it seemed to lose focus and and lost much of its vigor. That allowed Phoenix to trim its deficit to single digits late. But an Anthony Edwards dunk with 90 seconds to play put the Wolves back up 11 and essentially served as the dagger.
Edwards finished with 31 points and six rebounds.
Minnesota (21-22) has now won five of its last six games.
Phoenix went 14 for 23 from 3-point range — traditionally a recipe for a potential upset. But that hot shooting was undone by the Suns’ struggles from the interior. Phoenix went just 27 for 63 from inside the arc, lowlighted by a 5 for 18 performance from center DeAndre Ayton, who tried and failed to go at Rudy Gobert throughout the evening.
The Suns simply didn’t have enough oomph to contend, and Minnesota was able to do enough to take advantage.
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