The first night of a back-to-back found the Phoenix Suns taking on the hot Minnesota Timberwolves. It was an emotional affair as the officials did their best to “manage” the game. For the second consecutive game, the Suns found themselves battling some questionable officiating – which went both ways – and technical fouls were being given out like toothbrushes at a dentist office.
I’m watching an incredible game of refereeing unfold in Minnesota right now but unfortunately the Suns and Wolves are trying to destroy the beautiful flow of the game by attempting to play basketball— sreekar (@sreekyshooter) March 24, 2022
The Suns overcame a 13-point halftime deficit to defeat the Timberwolves, led by the 35 points and 14 rebounds by Deandre Ayton. Devin Booker closed the game for Phoenix in the fourth, scoring 28 on the night.
Here is how it went down.
The Suns struggled early in the game, shooting 33.3 percent from the floor in the first quarter, including 2-of-11 from outside the arc. Deandre Ayton, on the other hand, was fully involved in the quarter, scoring 10 of the Suns’ 25 points. He also pulled down six offensive rebounds. Karl Anthony-Towns equaled his scoring performance with ten points of his own.
Booker struggled in the first half, making only two of his seven shots and missing his only free throw attempt as the Wolves physically pressed him. Minnesota led by 5 after one, 30-25.
Landry Shamet got hot from beyond the arc in the second, scoring nine points on three-pointers. It’s evident that the confidence he got after scoring the game-winning field goal in Sacramento carried over to his performance in Minnesota.
The Wolves, who lead the league in 3PM and 3PA, retaliated to Shamet’s heat check with their own haymakers. The Timberwolves hit 7-of-15 three-pointers in the second quarter, putting them at +12 from beyond the arc in the first half.
BACK-TO-BACK TREYS FOR JAYLEN pic.twitter.com/kZlH3EWkBP— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) March 24, 2022
It’s not as if the Suns were bad in the first half. They were simply outgunned from beyond the arc. The Wolves are a perimeter team and when they get hot, as they’ve been over the past 11 games, watch out.
At the end of the second quarter, the officials lost control. Karl Anthony-Towns was irritated after dunking on Jae Crowder late in the second quarter, clapping his hands like Patrick Beverley and mouthing off and calling Bossman tiny. On the next play, double technical fouls were called as Towns continued to scuffle with Crowder.
After that, a tech was called on the Minnesota bench. After mauling Devon Booker, Anthony Edwards was slapped with a tech, but a ghost traveling call negated it? Finally, as time expired, Crowder was penalized for a flagrant foul while shooting a buzzer beater. Patrick Beverley was injured by his hands as he fired his shot.
The refs just changed this from a foul to a travel on the Suns. pic.twitter.com/Zu59s0xuM9— Mike Vigil (@protectedpick) March 24, 2022
Whatever. The Suns were 6-of-11 from the free throw line while the T-Wolves were 11-of-11.
T-Wolves 64, Suns 51.
With 7:53 left in the third quarter, Deandre Ayton joined the technical foul party after KAT pushed him on a jumper. He was highly frustrated with the physicality that Towns was being permitted to play with. Jae Crowder, with 6:32 left, was hit with his 5th foul while guarding KAT off-ball.
Anthony Edwards earned his tech mid-way through the third when he thought he was fouled going to the rim.
Everyone gets a technical tonight! pic.twitter.com/0geCXp0rh7— Suns JAM Session Podcast (@SunsJAM) March 24, 2022
The Suns put their heads down and stuck to their brand of basketball: methodical execution. They closed the gap to 2 with three minutes left in the third. The T-Wolves closed the quarter on a 7-4 run, however, and led 88-83 at the end of three quarters of play. The Suns outscored Minnesota 32-24 in the period. Booker scored 11 in the quarter.
Phoenix tied the game early in the 4th and so began a back-and-forth affair.
While attacking the rim and throwing an elbow at Landry Shamet, KAT received his fifth foul on a flagrant 1. As a result of Shamet’s free throws, the Suns gained their first lead of the game, 95-94.
Deandre Ayton continued to navigate the paint at an expert level and the Suns were focused on getting him the rock, especially during minutes in which KAT was on the bench. Tonight was one of the best games we have seen from Ayton this season. DA scored 11 in the fourth quarter and a career-high35 on the game, a season high for the big fella.
Landry Shamet continued his flamethrowing ways, looking like vintage Reggie Miller as he came off of a screen and deposited a three.
Landry Shamet...I...love you?— y - John Voita (@DarthVoita) March 24, 2022
The game entered clutch time as the Suns led 108-103. That is when Phoenix upped their defensive intensity and shut the Timberwolves down. Phoenix scored 41 fourth-quarter points.
Devin Booker extended that lead to 8 with a deep three-ball and, as the Timberwolves took a timeout, jarred with the Minnesota faithful. The way he uses the negativity of opposing fan bases and turns it into productivity on the basketball court continues to be impressive.
Devin Booker is wild for this one— Blue Wire (@bluewirepods) March 24, 2022
“Shut up p*ssy” pic.twitter.com/SNcWQn8cOK
Devin Booker received his technical foul after dunking and flexing on amigo D’Angelo Russell. And it was explosive. In doing so he passed the 11,000 point mark in his career.
Next up for Phoenix? A trip to Denver. See you tomorrow night!