Robin Lopez played strong defense tonight. And also, there's a lot of hair in this picture.
The Phoenix Suns had a great shooting night, all five starters scored in double figures including a season-high 20 from Grant Hill, and Steve Nash dished 17 assists to go with his 13 points as the Suns started the second half of their season with an impressive 104-95 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, their ninth in a row over Minnesota.
Kevin Love returned from missing last night's game due to illness to lead the Wolves with 23 points and 10 rebounds and Nikola Pekovic went for 14 and 9 as the Wolves dropped their second in a row on the final game of their back to back to back west coast swing.
As much as a mid-season game can be a "must win", this was for the Suns. They had a few players rise to the challenge, most notably Hill and Shannon Brown, and dominated the Wolves in the second half, outscoring the Wolves by 14.
Read on for more of the happy details!
Shannon Brown got minutes tonight rather than Michael Redd as the Suns tried to better match up with the young, athletic Wolves, and Brown played well, scoring 12 points on 6-11 shooting. Early foul trouble for Channing Frye and Markieff Morris allowed Hakim Warrick to see some action as well. He threw down a ferocious slam late in the first half but did little else in his 8 minutes of action.
Poor 3-point shooting from the Wolves might have been the result of playing their third night in a row as they hit only 1-13, helping the Suns cause tremendously. The Wolves also seemed to run out of gas a bit in the second half which, coupled with some tenacious defense from the Suns, led to them scoring only 44 second half points.
The Suns, meanwhile, connected on 53% of their FGs and 38% of their 3s in an efficient offensive performance that was marred only by 16 TOs. Nash spread the ball around in a masterful effort as he and five of his teammates each took at least 10 shots but none more than his 13.
- Nikola Pekovic is a huge, powerful player at 6'11 and 290, and he has some good footwork for a big man. The Wolves have found another solid piece for their emerging team. But that didn't stop Grant Hill from stuffing Pekovic for a jump ball late in the 4th.
- Eddie Johnson really dislikes Martell Webster's hair, spending a good chunk of the first half mocking it. EJ was on top of his game tonight and when he said to Tom Leander, "this is why I don't like you", he didn't sound like was kidding.
- Robin Lopez scored 0 points on 1 FGA but made a nice contribution with 6 rebounds, 2 blocks and solid overall play in his 13 minutes of action.
- Ricky Rubio had only 2 assists, scoring 13 points on 3-7 from the field as Nash showed that the comparisons between Rubio and him are entirely premature.
- Kevin Love needed 25 FGAs to get his 23 points, and committed 4 TOs. He showed his usual hustle and grit but he looked like his illness was lingering as he was an inefficient player tonight.
- Michael Beasley and Derrick Williams, two former #2 overall draft picks who are capable of offensive outbursts, combined for only 9 points on 3-15 shooting.