The halftime score was an eye popping 74-66 — a score you would not expect from the league’s 2nd and 13th best defenses.
But spurred on by a raucous home crowd in love with the scoring onslaught, the Suns decided they were going to throw more haymakers than they absorbed.
Even when the Wolves pulled back to within 6 points with 6 minutes left, the Suns decided today was not going to be a clutch day — pushing the lead out to 13 with 4:11 left.
The crowd could not contain itself, especially when the infamous kid from last year’s playoffs found the big screen and rebel yelled like a madman again while aggressively removing his shirt to the delight of the crowd. Yeah, that was weird to type, but it’s what happened.
The Wolves would not die, but Chris Paul made what turned out to be a game-sealing steal with just under a minute left.
A long minute later (lots of fouls and timeouts), the Suns win 134-124.
The Suns are now 39-9 on the season, riding a 9-game winning streak and by a wide margin the best record in the league.
Paul had a triple double in this one after coming close in Monday’s home game against Utah. Paul finished with 19 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds. That’s Paul’s second triple double this season, a remarkable feat for a 36 year old in his 17th season.
Devin Booker was excellent again too, with 29 points and 9 assists. He had most of the playmaking duties when Paul was off-ball, a trend we will see until Cam Payne comes back from his wrist sprain.
Five other Suns players had double-digit scoring games too, a nice return to balance on the scoresheet. Landry Shamet had his best game in a long time, scoring 17 points on 10 shots while recording 5 assists and 4 rebounds.
Curious how the game went? Read on.
The Wolves started out with their longest wing defenders (Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt) on Chris Paul and Devin Booker, so the Suns just made them pay with Mikal Bridges cuts to the basket against Towns and smaller defenders.
And a lot of running. A lot. Seemed like every single live rebound by the Suns turned into a fast break layup. The Suns were shooting 70% from the field halfway through the quarter with a 25-18 lead to force Minny’s second timeout of the quarter.
Keeping the Wolves close were their stars, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards, who scored 15 of their first 20 points. Towns attacked Bismack Biyombo in the post over and over, while Edwards made a pair of long threes.
As the subs filtered in, the Suns kept a seven-point lead as Landry Shamet finally made an open corner three!
The Suns and Wolves were both shooting 50+% by the end of the quarter, but the Suns still had the lead thanks to one more shot and six more free throws.
Suns up 40-32 after one. Booker and Bridges combined for 25 of the Suns 40 points on 8/14 shooting and 6/6 free throws.
The second quarter started okay, but eventually the Wolves clawed back in this one, and tied it up at 53-53 as the Suns bench players (Ish, Stix, Landry and Elf) just weren’t very good in their first half minutes (2-10 from the field). These Wolves just put out a really long, athletic lineup that disrupted the Suns on both ends (they went without KAT for a long time, and DLo is sidelined in this one).
They just kept scoring on each other in the latter part of the half, very few stops on either end.
The halftime score looked like an 80s throwback with Paul Westhead vs. Doug Moe or something. The teams were on pace for 150 points each!
Suns up 74-66 at halftime
When the second half started, the Suns were the more focused team and they took a 81-69 lead to force Minny’s first timeout.
The timeout was a good one to cool of the Suns, who missed shot after shot and allowed the Wolves to pull within five before Booker drained a three on a breakaway. They still wouldn’t go away as the Suns remained cold from the field. Soon the score was 88-86 on a KAT three point play.
The Suns made a few threes and were up 100-88 with the ball and just over one possession to go in the third. but a Jalen Smith offensive foul, Smith and-one foul and a steal/basket later and suddenly it’s just 100-93 at the end of three.
The Wolves just would not go away, and pulled close twice before Cam Johnson made a pair of three-point plays to hold them off.
—It’s important to note that the Suns are only leading this game because they’ve made 16 of 30 threes, an unusual number for them—
Right after I typed that, Cam J hit two more threes to put the Suns up 10 with a little over 5 minutes left.
Next Suns possession? How about Landry Shamet’s 4th three of the game (plus 3 more on free throws when fouled on one in the first half). He’s up to not only 17 points but also 5 assists and 4 rebounds. Might be Shamet’s best game. Certainly in a long time. Suns up 121-110.
The Suns went up 13 with 4 minutes left, and the rest of the game was just an exercise in riding it out.
Suns win 134-124.