The Minnesota Timberwolves continue to stumble to the finish line of 2012-13. Coming off a one-point loss to Golden State, after blowing a 16-point lead, the Wolves are in search of their 21st win of the season. They're hoping a matchup with the Western Conference's worst team (the Phoenix Suns) can be that elixir.
The Minnesota Timberwolves currently sit at 20-33 on the season, losers of their last two contests and currently sit at 12th in the Conference. The Phoenix Suns are 18-39 on the year, losers of their last three games and are 15th (last) in the Western Conference. As it currently stands, the Wolves are just four games above the last place Suns!
While both teams are (ultimately) out of the playoff chase, both of these squads will be lotto-bound this summer. The Wolves' 2013 1st round pick is currently the 8th pick while Phoenix's is the 5th pick. As much as I'd love to have a guy like Victor Oladipo or Otto Porter as Minnesota Timberwolves next season, I pray the Wolves have enough respect for the game of basketball to not 'tank'. Of course, with David Kahn potentially (I say potentially because there's a chance his contract won't be extended) making the draft choices he'll probably go with a center like Alex Len or Mason Plumlee, let Pek walk and not sign a shooting guard.
The Timberwolves and the Suns already met once this season. That lone meeting came on December 29th where the Wolves escaped with a narrow 111-107 win. Minnesota was led by Nikola Pekovic (28pts & 11reb) & Kevin Love (23pts & 18reb). The Suns got a HUGE game from Luis Scola (33pts & 10reb), while Shannon Brown added 21pts, 6reb, 3ast.
These two teams will meet two more times after tonight's game in Phoenix. They'll play in Phoenix again on March 22nd and close out the season series on April 13th in Minnesota. That April 13th game is Minnesota's third-to-last game of the season.
While the Wolves were quiet on Thursday's Trade Deadline, the Phoenix Suns made two deals. The first came on Wednesday (2/20). They sent a second round pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for former 14th overall pick Marcus Morris. Marcus now joins his twin brother Markieff as two very versatile, young and promising forwards on this Phoenix Suns squad. Marcus is already a part of the rotation as he played 21 minutes off the bench in Sunday's loss to the Spurs. He finished with 7pts, 5reb, 2stls & 1blk. The second deal came on Thursday when they sent former Wolf Sebastian Telfair to Toronto for center Hamed Haddadi and a second round pick.
Two former Wolves are still donning the Phoenix purple & orange. Forwards Michael Beasley & Wesley Johnson. Beas & Wes were excitedly welcomed to Phoenix this offseason and while Suns fans were enticed and thrilled to have two young and promising forwards--TWolves fans were glad to see them go and knew they'd still struggle in PHX. The majority of Beasley's games this season have come off the bench (20 games started, 33 as a reserve) his potential continues to tantalize while his inconsistency continues to frustrate. Mike is averaging 10.3ppg, 4rpg, 1.7apg, 0.4spg, 0.5bpg, 2.1topg while shooting 40% from the field, 33% from deep and 78% from the line in 21.8mpg. It's clear that the Suns are already dreading they gave him that three-year $18million contract. Johnson was Minnesota's starting small forward for the entire 2011-12 season. His role in Phoenix is exactly what it should be, however. Wes is a bench warmer averaging just 8.8mpg in 25 played this season (all off the bench). Wes is averaging 3ppg, 1.4rpg, 0.3apg & 0.3bpg. I'd say there's a good chance he'll be an unrestricted free agent this summer that'll struggle to find any takers. I'd say the D-League is in his not-to-distant future. Honestly, as much #$*@ I give these two, I whole-heartedly hope that they'll figure things out and become consistent above-average players in this League.
The Wolves continue to play on without Kevin Love (hand), Chase Budinger (knee), Malcolm Lee (knee/hip) and Brandon Roy (knees). Check out our injury report on this site for recent updates on Kevin Love & Chase Budinger--who should both return in mid-March.
The Suns have played all season without Channing Frye who is out with a heart condition. Frye won't play at all in 2012-13, but he says he's 95% certain he'll be back for 2013-14.
Let's take a look at tonight's probable starting lineups...
Based on the last meeting, apparently the player the Wolves need to commit the most attention to in this one will be Luis Scola. Scola had a great shooting night in that Dec. 29th meeting and I'm sure he'll be a focal point of the scouting report prior to tipoff. I'm excited to see two young point guards battle in this one. Rubio continues to impress as he stuffs the statsheet night after night. Dragic has been one of the few bright spots in a turbulent Suns season.
This one tips off at 8pmCT from Phoenix Arizona. Enjoy the game, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!