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Quick Recap (Preseason): Suns starters have great showing, take down Wolves 111-106

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The new Suns looked good around returnees Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton

NBA: Preseason-Minnesota Timberwolves at Phoenix Suns Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Your Phoenix Suns did everything you might have wanted them to do in a win over the Minnesota Timberwolves to kick off the preseason sked, winning 111-106.

They held the lead nearly all night and looked like the better team, especially in the starting lineup.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns with 18 points, 13 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists in 21 minutes. Devin Booker had 15 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 21 minutes. New point guard Ricky Rubio had 11/5/3 in 20 minutes and new power forward Dario Saric had 4/7/1 in 17 minutes.

Rubio looked in charge at the point all night and, after missing a couple of early passes right in the hands, Deandre Ayton looked like a great pick-and-roll partner for Ricky. Devin Booker looked like Devin Booker. :)

The offense looked better than at any time in the last few years, and the defense (before everyone got tired) looked okay too.

Rookies Cameron Johnson and Ty Jerome also looked good. Cam made lots of smart plays and his first three as the fill-in starter at small forward, while Jerome made 6 of 7 shots and had 4 assists looking like a maestro in the pick and roll.

Other notables: Frank Kaminsky with 14/5, Jevon Carter with 3 steals, Cheick Diallo with 9 rebounds and Elie Okobo with 11/1/2.

The Suns had on the road for a pair of preseason games the rest of this week.

Out - injured

Suns: Kelly Oubre Jr. (right hand - OUT), Mikal Bridges (knee - OUT), Aron Baynes (nose - QUESTIONABLE), David Kramer (tibia - SUPER OUT). All but Kramer are day-to-day.

Wolves: Jordan Bell

Monty’s pregame quotes

“The biggest thing is defensively being a great transition defensive team. We tell our guys in transition, you have to get a man, not your man. If you can get your man, great, but we have to protect our transition.”

How we play, I’m more concerned than anything. Competing, transition defense, rebounding the ball. Even though we want to play fast, we don’t want to turn the ball over.”

Starting lineups

First Quarter

Here we go. Curious who Cameron Johnson guards. Minnesota also starting a few mid-sized wings without a true power forward, so we’ll see how this goes.

  • Towns makes a three on the opening possession, while Suns turn it over on their first one trying to get the ball in to Ayton in the post
  • Ayton commits foul at rim on Towns, then fumbles pass from Saric on his own end
  • Next possession though, Ayton gets offensive rebound off Saric miss, then takes the give and go hard to the rim for a finish (no foul call)
  • Devin Booker scored on the next possession on a nice drive (no foul call)
  • The Wolves finally missed a couple minutes later, and Rubio got a steal and finish to pull the Suns back to 9-7
  • Then Booker hits the three to give the Suns the lead 10-9
  • This is a more resilient, talented team folks
  • Ricky misses a couple open threes — get used to that, folks
  • Ayton is gonna need some time to get used to close but hard passes in traffic. HIs hands are too good to be stoney
  • Cam Johnson has already made a couple of good defensive plays, and made some good passes. Hasn’t scored yet or taken a shot yet.
  • Suns score on four straight possessions after timeout (when they gave up a transition basket), taking 21-13 lead, when Minnesota goes small and Suns stay with starters. Ayton abuses smaller guys on both ends. Ayton two scores, Ricky on a drive, and Saric a catch and shoot three
  • Suns first subs: Tyler Johnson and Frank Kaminsky for Cam and Dario
  • Suns take a 28-15 lead. Ayton has 8 and 8 with 2 blocks already, Booker has 8 and 5 assists, Ricky has 7 and 3 assists with a steal. Suns cooking!
  • Next subs: Ty Jerome, Cheick Diallo, Jevon Carter
  • Frank makes a three! Ty Jerome cleans up a miss, and Suns have 33-15 lead
  • This Suns lineup though is a big ragged. Gives up 7 straight points looking like... last year’s Suns lol
  • Ty Jerome makes a pair of pick-and-roll jumpers in the paint... just like he did in college, and not so different than Booker does all the time.
  • Wolves pull back to 37-26 to end the first quarter.

Second Quarter

  • Okay so let’s remember the Suns are out three rotation players tonight (Oubre, Bridges, Baynes) so they’re not gonna look good after the starters
  • After taking a 33-15 lead, the Suns have surrendered a 16-4 run
  • Diallo, Carter, Tyler Johnson, Frank and Carter out there. Meanwhile most of the Minny starters are back in to start the second, including the incredible KAT
  • Minnesota has it back to 41-35
  • After timeout, Suns back with mostly starters (except Frank over Dario)
  • Suns are really sloppy now, and the Wolves tie it up 43-43
  • Two quick Rubio/Ayton pick and roll hookups lead to points — Suns back up 47-43
  • Cam with the THREE. So smooth, his first shot of the new season :)
  • Note: The starters, playing 13-17 minutes each, were REALLY dragging the last couple of minutes, with every shot falling short down the stretch

Halftime: Suns up 56 - 54

Booker — 11 points, 5 assists; Ayton — 16 points, 10 rebounds, 2 blocks; Rubio — 7 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal; Saric — 4 points, 6 rebounds

Team: 12 assists on 23 made shots; 5-14 on threes — nothing impressive, right? How about: starters have 12 assists on 16 made shots; 4-9 on threes

Starters got 13-17 minutes each; bench was really ragged. Remember Bridges, Oubre and Baynes didn’t even play tonight.


Second Half

Real curious what happens out of halftime, considering Monty said his starters would likely only play 14-18 minutes each tonight.

Players who have yet to see the court: Jared Harper, Jalen Lecque, Norense Odiase, Elie Okobo, Tariq Owens.

Got to think Elie gets some second half time, no?

  • Suns start slow in the second half while the Wolves get a couple threes — suddenly Wolves up 63-58 pulling Ayton out of paint (Towns outside) and abusing Saric on cuts. Suns can’t seem to stop anything.
  • Rubio gets hit in the face with a pass. Suns call timeout down 68-66. Might be the last we see of Ricky tonight. Jevon Carter comes in for him. Let’s see if he looks any better with the starters than he did with the backups (which was bad).
  • Rest of starters might be done too, after four minutes.
  • Now it’s gonna get ugly, I fear. Bench was big minus in that first half.
  • Ty Jerome having a nice game though — 5/6 from the field
  • Frank Kaminsky finding ways to score — 4/6 from the field
  • So far, on this bench unit: Ty Jerome knows how to play. Jevon Carter does not (so far). Diallo not having a good game either. Frank can score and tries hard out there. Not sure what Tyler Johnson is doing, but it’s not good basketball results. Maybe he’s putting it all into defense?
  • Haha well, what do I know? Suns deep bench doing better than Minny deep bench so far. Suns up 86-78.
  • Elie time!

Suns up 90-82 after three

Ty Jerome with 12 points on 6/7 shooting, plus 1 assist and 1 rebound. Carter with 9 and 2 rebounds. Frank with 11 and 3 rebounds. Cheick with 8 rebounds but no real offensive game at all. Elie with a quick 4 points in 1 minute of play.

Fourth quarter

  • Cam gets some more time, taking over for Ty Jerome. Missed his first shot, a three
  • Jevon Carter having himself some success now. I can see why Monty likes him a bit. Got a couple really good steals. Has three total now.
  • Frank Kaminsky is 2-4 on threes but has passed up a couple open ones too. Doing the Bender run-off too much. Just take the shots!
  • Still, Suns maintain 97-88 lead with 6:11 to go

Good win, Suns!!