Yecccch. This was an ugly one. The Suns managed to lose a very winnable game. Turnovers were the big story of the game. I tweeted this at the end of the first half:
@paulcoro I think they're playing 21. First team to 21 turnovers loses.— Mike Lisboa (@MikeLisboa) November 26, 2016
I didn’t expect the Phoenix Suns to try and take me up on it. Yet, 26 turnovers and a loss later, here we are. Alex Len and Eric Bledsoe were the biggest culprits, accounting for 7 TOs apiece. Len’s were especially egregious as 3 of them came on inbounds passes. On the bright side, Len continued his strong work on the glass and on defense, notching 11 rebounds and 4 blocks. Similarly, Bledsoe’s butter fingers marred an otherwise solid 23 point, 10 assist, 6 rebound performance.
Brandon Knight and Devin Booker combined for 26 quiet points on 9 of 22 shooting, including 2 of 8 from three-point range.
For the Minnesota Timberwolves, Andrew Wiggins lead all scorers with 25 points and Karl-Anthony Towns had a typically KAT performance with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Zach LaVine also contributed 13 points, 2 of which were pretty spectacular (see below).
The first quarter was a sloppy, defenseless affair in which both teams combined for 11 turnovers. Karl-Anthony Towns and Brandon Knight were each team’s respective high scorers with 9 and 8 points respectively. Aside from the sloppiness, I thought Phoenix looked more aggressive and crisp on offense than they have so far this year. Timberwolves ended the quarter with a 29-27 lead.
Also, I got excited for some strong Alex Len play about 2 minutes too early. Witness.
Alex Len highlights are the best highlights.*— Mike Lisboa (@MikeLisboa) November 26, 2016
*Dragan Bender highlights are actually the best, but science hasn't proven they exist
Zach LaVine posterizes Alex Len pic.twitter.com/23ToKgnaWV— John Meyer (@thedailywolf) November 26, 2016
Aside from the sloppiness, I thought Phoenix looked more aggressive and crisp on offense than they have so far this year.
I take it all back. The sloppiness continued, but the crispness did not. After Phoenix opened up the quarter with an 11-4 run to take a 38-33 lead, neither team could hit water falling out of a boat. Both teams combined for a mere 20 points and agonizing 11 turnovers in the first nine minutes of the second quarter. For excitement, Devin Booker drew a tech for wrapping up with his boy Karl-Anthony Towns to prevent a dunk. Phoenix managed to shoot well enough to hang on to a 52-47 lead at halftime.
Hey! The Suns were able to control their turnovers to start the third quarter. And verily, their lead did grow, extending to a very nice 69-56 mark after 7 minutes. Then, because we’re talking about Phoenix, the turnovers returned and verily their lead shrank. Fortunately, Devin Booker hid a big three pointer to allow Phoenix to maintain a 77-67 lead at the end of the quarter. Eric Bledsoe quietly attained a double-double with 18 points and 10 assists heading into the fourth.
Sloppy Phoenix play (turnovers, cold shooting, missed free throws) allowed Minnesota to tighten the game early in the fourth, pulling within 5 points. And then 3. And then 1. And then they took a 4-point lead on the strength of an 11-2 run featuring some nifty passing by their backcourt and post work by Karl-Anthony Towns. The Suns’ offense regressed as the quarter went on. Phoenix was unable to answer Minnesota’s 4th quarter surge as they outscored Phoenix 31-10 in the final period.