The game was sloppy, but the Phoenix Suns crowd got their money worth tonight. The Suns and Timberwolves played an exciting fourth quarter loaded with lead changes and big plays.
After the Wolves tied the game on a big three from Zach LaVine, the Suns took a 3-point lead back with 1:35 left on a Mirza Teletovic three pointer that wowed the crowd.
The Suns almost pulled out to a 5-point lead, but Chandler was called for his sixth foul. Then the Wolves stopped the Suns on their next possession and got to the line for four free throws to take the lead with 12.9 seconds left.
The Suns looked dead, until Devin Booker made a three-point play to give the Suns a two-point lead with 9.2 seconds to go, 104-102. This was great, considering it was Booker with the TO in traffic on the last possession.
Andrew Wiggins followed with a drive to tie, but then Mirza Teletovic made the biggest three of his life to give the Suns a 3-point lead with 1.2 seconds left.
Suns win 107-104.
Zach LaVine had 28 points in the game, while Ricky Rubio had 13 points and 17 assists. Andrew Wiggins chipped in 22points (18 at the half) and Karl-Anthony Towns had 17 points and 10 rebounds.
Devin Booker finished with 16 points and 6 assists, while Mirza Teletovic had 21 off the bench.
These are two teams that won't be confused with the Spurs or Warriors. Neither team executed crisp offense or defense in the opening minutes, but still putting up the kinds of scores each offense wanted anyway: dunks, free throws and threes.
Each team had a lot of broken up possessions. Each time had active hands to get out on the break. Each team missed a lot of easy shots.
Alex Len picked up two quick fouls and Mirza Teletovic came in to make some shots while the Suns tried over and over to get the ball to Tyson Chandler to no avail. Both Brandon Knight and P.J. Tucker tossed him lobs he couldn't handle - and they were pretty good lobs. I guess he only looks for Devin Booker.
The teams stumbled, fumbled and rumbled to a virtual tie after one. Tucker and Teletovic combined for 13 of the Suns 25 points. Tucker and Brandon Knight led the Suns with 3 assists each. Each could have had more if players hadn't missed easy shots.
Suns up 27-25 after one.
The Suns started the quarter on a 9-6 run to take a 36-31 lead, basically by not missing any easy shots. But then the wheels came off. The Wolves ended the second quarter by outscoring the listless Suns 26-11, including an end-of-half alley oop to Andrew Wiggins. Of course.
It wasn't anyone's best game. Brandon Knight. Alex Len. Archie. Everyone was hesitant on their shots. Even Devin Booker wasn't as aggressive as usual.
The Wolves weren't even playing well. They were just playing. And Ricky Rubio made two straight mid range jumpers at one point. You have to at least contest the jumpers, guys. Even Ricky's.
Where Rubio shined, of course, was passing the ball. He had 12 first-half assists that put the ball right into easy scoring position for the guys.
Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine each took a quarter to dominate, with LaVine scoring 12 first-half points and Wiggins getting 10 second-quarter points. They combined for 34 points total.
Meanwhile, the Suns two leading scorers on Saturday night against the league's best team combined for 1 point in the entire first half. Alex Len scored the lone points on a free throw (missed the other) while the two combined to shoot 0-8.
Both Booker and Len were getting blitzed by double-teams every time they touched the ball. Booker passed out of it while Len fumbled and turned it over more often than not.
Suns down 57-47 at half.
After having an awful first half, the Suns worked hard to give Alex Len a chance to get into the game as they came out of the break. Len had several shots, including a hard drive to the bucket.
That seemed to get him involved, as after that he grabbed a couple of contested rebounds and made a nice pass to finish pick-and-roll-and-roll to Chase Budinger on the secondary cut.
Brandon Knight couldn't heat up though. He was passing well, but couldn't make a shot to save his life. When he missed a wide open, set your feet and let it go, three pointer, you knew it wasn't his night.
But then it was. He faked out Tyus Jones for a step-back three that lit up the crowd.
The Suns eventually pulled to a lead at 84-78 just into the 4th quarter on a pair of Tucker threes from the corner. That gave Tucker 21 points - his highest point total since December 31, 2015 against the Thunder.
Alex Len was well on his way to another double-double, and the Suns game ops folks were finally to play driving beat music to celebrate the other team calling a timeout to quell the run.
Then the Wolves came back, and Len got his fifth foul with 9:04 left.
The Suns and Wolves went back and forth after that. Zach LaVine got consecutive breakaway and-ones, while the Suns kept a tenuous lead.
Tyson Chandler had a pair of HUGE putback slams on Booker and Knight misses that gave the Suns and the crowd some big energy, and he grabbed rebounds in traffic like he's been doing his whole career.
In the end, the Suns got the lead behind their veterans P.J. Tucker (23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) and Tyson Chandler (14 and 11, with a HUGE fourth quarter).
The Wolves came back to tie it again with 4 quick points from Towns and LaVine.