The Phoenix Suns played with energy right off the bet, and never let up. You all know that’s the only recipe for success with this undermanned Suns team on any night, let alone one without both of their big men.
They did this same thing to Denver and won. Now it’s the Wolves. Amazing how different a game can go when you apply more energy than the other team.
Except this time, the Wolves had an answer and the Suns clammed up. The Wolves answer was Derrick Rose, who scored 31 incredible points and willed the Wolves to a much-needed win.
Wolves win, 116-114.
Rose made the winning shot with less than a second left on the clock, the SECOND time in the past week that a secondary opposing was trusted with, and drained, the game winner against the woeful Suns.
The Suns took an improbable halftime lead, despite 28 points from Karl-Anthony Towns, and stretched that out to 11 in the third. Wolves media noted that clearly the Wolves were waiting for the Suns to lay down, but the Suns just simply didn’t.
But then this IS a road game on a back-to-back, and the Suns are short handed and often short-tempered. The Wolves took the lead early in the fourth on a 12-1 run relying on their bench, led by Derrick Rose who exploded on the Suns bench unit.
But the Suns did not go quietly into that good night, and didn’t have to overcome a 20-point deficit like most games.
They retook the lead with about 4 minutes and kept the lead until Derrick Rose tied the game at 114-114 with 30 seconds left after a Suns turnover.
After another Suns turnover, it was Derrick Rose time to finish the game on the final possession.
He dribbled the ball for 20 of the 23 seconds, then walked his way into a long 20 foot jumper that went in with less than a second left.
Good job, bad finish Suns.
Derrick Rose finished with 31 points, many of them on that same 20 foot shot that the Suns allowed him to take over and over.
The Suns at least got a Dragan Bender sighting, who started in the wake of Ayton and Holmes being out. Bender responded with 12 points and 10 rebounds, his first double-double of the season (he hadn’t had more than 8 points or 3 rebounds in a game this year, actually).
First half recap
One night after getting stung hard by a swarm of Hornets, the Phoenix Suns somehow burned the Timberwolves with a blistering first half of 52% shooting to take a 67-64 halftime lead.
The Suns had scores from 9 of their 10 players, including 5 with 8+ points each. Mikal Bridges was the only player not to score, but in pure Bridges fashion he had 2 steals and was a +4 on the floor in 14 minutes.
Dragan Bender had his best half in probably his whole NBA career with 9 points, 5 rebounds and an assist with only one foul committed, though he DID contribute to allowing Karl-Anthony Towns to score 28 first half points.
Why was Bender playing? Because both Deandre Ayton and Richaun Holmes were out, leaving the Suns with only Bender and Quincy Acy available to defend the paint.
Hence, KAT had 28 points while Taj Gibson had 13 by halftime, accounting for most of the Wolves’ 64 first half points.
The Suns somehow tied the Wolves in rebounding with 20 each that half, which is a huge accomplishment considering the circumstances.
If only the game was just 24 minutes long.