The key stat from tonight's game? The Phoenix Suns were playing on 8 days rest, while the Wolves were playing on...0 days rest! Nonetheless, the Minnesota Timberwolves had an uncharacteristic game. Most games the Wolves come out and their starters are unable to get the job done, sometimes even falling down by double-digits within the first quarter, however tonight's first half was where Minnesota excelled.
The game was close through the first half. The first quarter ended with Minnesota up 1; 23-22 and the half came to an end as Minnesota led 28-24. The opening quarter was led by Ricky Rubio (7pts) & Kevin Love (8pts). In the second quarter it was Pekovic (8pts) & Webster (6pts). However, the Suns' Marcin Gortat & Steve Nash weren't going to let Minnesota waltz away with this one.
At the half, the Wolves were lead by Kevin Love: 10pts, 3rebs, 1ast, 1stl, 5-11 FG; Nikola Pekovic: 10pts, 4rebs, 4-7FG, 2-2 FT; & Luke Ridnour: 9pts, 2rebs, 4ast, 2stls, 3-4 FG, 3-3 FT. The Suns' Gortat & Steve Nash lead the Suns at the half. Gortat: 12pts, 2rebs, 1stl, 4-6 FG, 4-4 FT; & Nash: 8pts, 3rebs, 7ast, 1stl, 4-5 FG.
Minneosta also finished the first half with 6 turnovers--all of which came in the first quarter! Both teams shot a high percentage in the first half, Minnesota at 50% & Phoenix at 54%. However, both teams are usually known as good three-point shooting teams, but neither was able to hit a three-point shot in the first half.
Then...came the second half and the third quarter was where the Phoenix Suns ran away with this one. The Suns outscored Minnesota 23-31 in the third and 21-27 in the fourth as they sealed a 9-point win over the TWolves.
Ultimately the Phoenix Suns' hot shooting carried through in the second half...and the Minnesota Timberwolves' shooting...did not, not hard to see why though as we come back to the Wolves playing the last game of a back-to-back-to-back, while the Suns have had 8 days rest!
Let's take a look at some key players' individual stats from tonight's game...
Kevin Love had a pretty good return, but to score 23 points on 25 attempts clearly isn't an efficient shooting night. Looking at the full team stats from tonight, I believe Luke Ridnour was the Wolves' best player tonight. He shot a high percentage, he led the team in assists, played good defense, had just one turnover and played a team-high 43 minutes!
For the Suns, Hill came alive in the second half and was a big key to the Suns pulling away in the third quarter. After just 5 points in the first half, Hill had 10pts in the third quarter and another 5 in the fourth to finish with 20 on the night. Pek vs. Gorat was certainly a good battle. Gortat finished with 3 more points and shot a higher percentage, but it was a real close matchup. Pek did have an advantage on the glass, which was something Marcin highlighted in a post-game interview, saying he struggled to box Pek out, allowing him to grab 9 rebounds (6 of which came on the offensive end). Gortat & Pek have known each other for a number of years, Gortat said after the game that the first time they played against each other (over in Europe) Pek was about as skinny/had the same build as Gortat does now! Then, of course, Steve Nash! Nash had a phenomenal game. He had 10 of his 17 assists in the second half and flirted with a triple-double (just two rebounds away). Nash definitely got the better of Rubio in this matchup (Ricky finished with 13pts, 2rebs, 2ast, 2stls in 31 minutes).
Let's take a look at the team stats from tonight's game...
The Timberwolves shot a season-low 8% from three (the one three coming from Kevin Love in the third quarter). They got beat on the boards with a +7. Steve Nash had three more assists himself than the Timberwolves. The Wolves got beat in the paint with a +8 and the Suns' bench out-scored Minnesota's 18-28, a +10 (the Wolves only played three subs: Webster , Williams  & Beasley ).
The Timberwolves' 12 steals matches a season-high (also had 12 steals vs. the Hawks on Jan. 14th). The Suns' hot shooting was what won this one. They didn't make any threes in the first half either, but they were able to connect on three in second half and they made 8 more field goals on 7 less attempts when compared to Minnesota.
That's all for now, thanks for reading HOWL and GO WOLVES!
Cody D. Anderson
A Wolves fan bringing you Gameday Recaps all season long!