It was a back and forth battle in the fourth until the final seconds, despite the Phoenix Suns missing 6 open 3s off good penetration in the quarter (all 9 in the second half) and once again missing an game-leading layup at a critical time with a minute left.
The Suns had good shots on every possession but just could not knock them down while the Wolves kept pounding it inside.
Luis Scola had a heckuva game (33 and 10) but missed a critical bunny with seconds left and then missed the first and made the second free throw with 8 seconds left. Why didn't he intentionally miss that second shot?
Goran Dragic had a great game with 16 points and 12 assists but missed
his five three-point attempts both three-point attempts and five free throws.
P.J. Tucker played his butt off and helped the Suns stay respectable on the boards, but missed a critical layup that would have given the Suns the lead with a minute left.
And once again the Suns couldn't even get off a shot on their final possession (failing to get the ball in twice).
Kevin Love had 23 and 18, Nikola Pekovic had 28 and 11 and Andre Kirilenko had 20 and 5, with 4 assists.
Former Wolf Michael Beasley floated, was jeered, and ultimately gave separation to the Wolves by missing three straight shots on consecutive possessions in the beginning of the fourth (and 1-8 overall for the game) to give them a late 5-point lead the Suns couldn't overcome.
The missed open 3s. The missed last-minute layup that could have given the Suns a lead.
Sound familiar? The Suns just can't make critical shots.
Nikola Pekovic killed the Suns to start the game (9 pts in the first quarter). Kevin Love became Kevin Love again with 13 points, 5 rebounds in the first quarter on 5-8 shooting after hitting only 35% coming in. Kirilenko had 10, 3, 2. The three of them went 14 for 18 in that first quarter.
As predicted in the preview, by the way.
The Suns played hard and kept the game close. Jared Dudley was 4-4 for 9 points. Goran Dragic had 6 assists. Luis Scola 8 pts and 4 rebounds. and the Suns only trailed by 3 at the end of the quarter.
In the second, Derrick Williams came out on fire (as predicted) getting 10 points on 3-4 shooting and making both 3s. Think he wants to be a Sun? Michael Beasley tried too hard and made only 1 of his first 5 shots.
After tying the game at 54-54, the Wolves finished on on 10-4 run by outworking the Suns on the glass. Gortat and Scola could not pull down the defensive board on dribble penetration by little Barea, whose misses turned into layups by Pekovic, Love and Kirilenko. The Wolves finished the half with a 12-board advantage.
The 25th-best shooting team in the league finished the half shooting 58%.
Kirilenko, Love and Pekovic finished with 44 of the Wolves 64 points on 20 of 29 shooting. Love had 12 boards by himself. Love with 15 and 12 is halfway to that dreaded 30/20 game I was worried about. That ain't gonna get it done, folks.The Suns played hard, but ineffectively on defense. As always.
Scola finished the half with 16 points and 4 rebounds, Dragic with 11 points, 7 assists and 3 rebounds.