Game Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (6-19) Brave the Phoenix Sun (11-12)

Something evidently called a blizzard happened in Minnesota over the weekend. I guess it's a cold weather thing which desert rats like me don't quite understand. However I am fairly certain the Minnesota Timberwolves are overjoyed to come out West and play basketball to escape this raining snow situation. But will 80 degrees be too hot for them? I'm guessing the climate will favor the Suns in this one. Of course I've been wrong before.

Tonight the Suns face the number one rebounding team in the league. The good news is Robin Lopez is slated to start. Of course, this is bad news for those of you who already purchased your Earl Barron jerseys. Don't worry, he may still get some time off the pine before he's jetisoned back to the D-Leagues or wherever his next destination will be. Plus, you'll have an excellent Suns obscurity to break out when entertaining friends and family.

Aside from the obvious questions such as how ready is Robin, how effective can he be after the injury and layoff, The Suns have some other pressing questions:

  • Whose the odd man out in the rotation?: Who out of the logjam of 3's gets the short end of the stick.? While J-Chill and Dudz are better defenders than Hedo, Turk has attributes that neither of the other two have. Namely some alleged playmaking ability and some serious 4th quarter stones.
  • What about Hakim? Will WarMachine's defensive liabilities continue to limit his court time?
  • Has a few days off and a few days of practice put Jason Richardson in the right frame of mind to get hot again? Rich put up 7 straight games of 20+ points and at least 7 field goals made in a Suns 5-2 stretch. And we all know the Suns are 189-2 when rich plays good and all that.

The Timberwolves present some obvious front court challenges for the Suns. Kevin Love is the second coming of Rodman (in the rebounding sense), only with less piercings, tats, and strange phone calls into radio stations for no apparant reason other than to flaunt the fact he had a hooker with him. Darko's a load to deal with and is coming off of a 25 and 11 game. Michael Beasley is bringing 21 points per game, good for second in the league among forwards. 

 

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Michael Beasley 23 33.3 8.7 18.3 47.2 0.8 2.2 38.0 3.0 4.4 69.3 1.7 4.3 6.1 1.5 2.8 0.8 0.8 3.7 21.2
Kevin Love 25 35.1 6.8 15.4 44.5 1.3 3.1 41.0 5.3 6.0 88.0 4.8 10.8 15.6 2.2 2.4 0.5 0.5 2.1 20.2
Martell Webster 1 26.0 6.0 8.0 75.0 2.0 2.0 100.0 3.0 5.0 60.0 0.0 5.0 5.0 2.0 5.0 1.0 0.0 3.0 17.0
Luke Ridnour 20 28.5 3.9 8.4 46.1 1.1 2.5 44.0 1.8 2.0 90.0 0.5 2.1 2.6 5.0 2.0 1.2 0.2 1.9 10.6
Darko Milicic 24 26.5 4.2 9.6 43.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 2.1 62.7 2.3 3.9 6.1 2.0 2.3 0.5 2.7 3.3 9.8
Corey Brewer 25 24.9 3.1 8.6 35.8 0.6 1.9 29.2 2.4 3.3 74.4 0.8 2.2 3.0 1.6 1.3 1.8 0.2 2.6 9.2
Wesley Johnson 25 28.4 3.4 8.0 43.2 1.2 3.3 36.6 0.8 1.3 63.6 1.0 2.4 3.4 1.9 1.5 0.4 0.6 2.8 8.9
Sebastian Telfair 24 21.7 2.8 6.5 42.7 0.8 2.0 38.3 1.3 1.8 72.7 0.3 1.0 1.3 3.6 2.0 0.7 0.1 1.8 7.7
Wayne Ellington 19 18.5 2.6 6.3 42.0 0.9 2.1 42.5 0.4 0.7 61.5 0.2 1.3 1.5 0.8 0.9 0.6 0.0 1.5 6.6
Anthony Tolliver 19 18.7 1.9 4.3 45.1 0.7 1.7 43.8 1.7 2.2 78.6 1.2 2.9 4.1 1.3 0.9 0.4 0.5 2.1 6.4
Nikola Pekovic 16 13.8 2.2 4.6 47.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.3 1.9 70.0 1.8 1.4 3.2 0.3 1.6 0.1 0.7 3.0 5.7
Jonny Flynn 1 16.0 1.0 2.0 50.0 1.0 2.0 50.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 1.0 1.0 2.0 4.0 1.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 3.0
Sundiata Gaines 7 9.1 1.0 3.1 31.8 0.3 0.9 33.3 0.7 1.1 62.5 0.1 0.7 0.9 0.9 0.9 0.4 0.0 0.6 3.0
Kosta Koufos 20 7.0 1.0 2.3 44.4 0.0 0.1 0.0 0.4 0.5 70.0 0.8 0.9 1.7 0.1 0.6 0.2 0.3 1.2 2.4
Lazar Hayward 15 7.5 0.5 2.3 20.0 0.3 1.1 23.5 0.5 0.7 80.0 0.7 0.8 1.5 0.6 0.3 0.3 0.2 1.0 1.7

 



I'd love to break out some highly technical analysis on this one, but we all know what has to happen for the Suns to win: body up the T-Wolve bigs, hit some shots, and play with some heart. And for the heck of it, check this quote out:

"Our team needs to learn that if they don't play hard every night, we are not going to win...We did not give a maximum effort. We gave them too many second chance opportunities and turned the ball over too many times."

Sound familiar? Well that was T-Wolves Coach Kurt Rambis. Of course it could have been Alvin Gentry, or virtually anyone in the league.

Numbers are Fun:

  • The Wolves have dropped 25 of 26 games on the road, dating back to last season
  • The Suns have won five straight over Minnesota by an average of 18 points and have won seven of the past eight meetings in in Phoenix.
  • The Suns haven't lost 3 in a row at US Airways Center since Jan. 16-31, 2009

Game Day Links:

AZCentral: Lopez to Start:

Asked how the 255-pound 7-footer has looked in the final stages of his comeback, Frye grinned and said: "Great. That boy is crazy. He's everywhere. I forgot how big and long and active he is. "I think that's the biggest thing. He helps us in practice rebounding, and him and Garret (Siler, 6-11, 305) just go at it, it's like Godzilla and King Kong down there."

MN Star Tribune:
Beasley's all dressed up but has a long way to go:

The Wolves' new go-to scorer wears a headband, dreadlocks, tattoos that make his entire body look like a Ren & Stimpy cartoon, pads on his right elbow, ribs and tailbone, and white sleeves with shin pads on both calves. 

Timberwolves vs Suns coverage

Timberwolves vs Suns preview

Canis Hoopus

 

[Note by Seth Pollack, 12/15/10 4:33 PM MST ]

Nash has been using this time off to try and get his body right:

Phoenix Suns Schedule Kindly Delivers The Minnesota Timberwolves - SB Nation Arizona
"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.

And more on the Grant Hill is Awesome story

Steve Nash Agrees, Grant Hill Having His Best Season As A Phoenix Sun - SB Nation Arizona
The case for Grant Hill to be in the NBA All-Star consideration goes beyond the numbers. His coach and MVP teammate Steve Nash are, not surprisingly, two of his biggest supporters, but that doesn't mean either is just blindly blowing smoke when it comes to Grant's play. These are the guys that go to battle each game with Grant and understand better than anyone how well he's playing.

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