The stage was set for the Phoenix Suns to lay an egg against the Minnesota Timberwolves.
And for two and half quarters, the Suns did just that. They played down to their competition and barely held a lead until a nice run at the end of the third to build an 8-point lead.
The lead stretched to 14 in the fourth quarter and never got close again as Gerald Green was the team's leading scorer off the bench with 19 points in 24 minutes.
Goran Dragic had 21 points, 8 assists and 5 rebounds.
Brandan Wright had 11 points, 3 rebounds and some nice blocks in 20 minutes of play.
Alex Len had a dozen rebounds in 21 minutes, and Miles Plumlee had 6 points, 2 rebounds and 1 steal in 9 minutes.
This was a good win by the Suns. Not gorgeous, but pretty.
After scoring 52 against the Pacers the other night, including 37 in the second half alone, Mo Williams started the game by running off three screens to get an open corner three and draining it.
Meanwhile, Alex Len started off very active with 6 early points while Goran Dragic matched him with 6 of his own. All but two of the points were at the rim, with 8 of them on second chances after misses.
The Wolves kept pace though, scoring on every possession on a variety of plays getting open shots. They began the game going 8-for-8.
After that, the Wolves missed five straight shots while the Suns went on a 7-0 run to take the lead. Goran Dragic was in Dragon Mode, scoring 13 points on mostly layups and putbacks (he had three offensive board/putbacks).
Neither team ended up playing much defense in this quarter, just like they didn't play it a week ago when the Suns barely won 113-111 in regulation.
But the Suns had a 32-27 lead after one thanks to the Wolves missing 13 of their last 17 shots.
T.J. Warren gets into the game!
And Isaiah Thomas starts the quarter by putting up an alley-oop to Brandan Wright.
But then the Suns second unit got absolutely torched by a bad Minny lineup. The combo of Thomas, Green, Warren, Mook and Wright allowed 8 of 9 shooting to start the quarter. Minny was playing their entire second unit too. And a 6-31 team's second unit is not a good unit.
Then some starters returned to right the ship, including Alex Len who was once again a big force in the paint deterring shots.
The Suns took a 9-point lead before getting a little too crazy on their play, both offensively and defensively. The play got so ragged that the Wolves nearly came back to tie just by being pests defensively and letting the Suns have brain fart after brain fart.
The Suns ended the half shooting 1-for-6 with 5 turnovers in the last three minutes. That's bad.
The Wolves had 56 points at halftime. The Suns had 59.
Not a clean first half by the Suns.
At least a fan won $5,000 by making a free throw, three pointer and half court shot in succession! Sign him up!
The Suns opened the third quarter with a better defensive rotations, getting shot clock violation against the Wolves. And then P.J. made a two on a nice play to get him open for jumper. Not sure why it's so important to get P.J. open for a jumper, but he was the only rotation player not to score in the first half so maybe that was it.
The teams traded buckets for a while until the Suns went on a run to get up 84-72, highlighted by a personal Miles Plumlee 6-0 scoring binge (along with 3 rebounds and a block).
Luckily, the Suns didn't have an end of quarter meltdown, and kept a 86-75 lead going into the fourth.
The Suns started the 4th with the dreaded Wright/Plumlee combo of stink. Neither plays on the perimeter, so the spacing is awful, leaving Thomas, Mook and Green to shoot jumpers.
Still, the Wolves weren't very good either so the Suns still held a 9-point lead before Plumlee took a rest for Goran, balancing the lineup a lot better.
Gerald Green got his groove back with a couple of threes to put Suns up 14 and the rest of the game was about keeping the lead by playing smart. Brandan Wright helps in that regard, with great rim protection and running the floor.