Wednesday, February 26, 2014
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Timberwolves rally to defeat Suns

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[February 26, 2014]  PHOENIX -- Nearly two months ago in Minnesota, the Phoenix Suns scored the final seven points of the game and stole a one-point win from the Timberwolves on guard Gerald Green's basket in the final seconds.

Tuesday night, red-hot center Kevin Love and the Timberwolves pounced on an opportunity to return the favor.

Love put up 30 or more points for the sixth straight game with 33 points and 13 rebounds and had seven of his points during a 15-2 Minnesota run late in the fourth quarter as the Timberwolves rallied to beat the Suns 110-101 on Tuesday.

Rookie forward Shabazz Muhammad added a career-high 20 points and forward Corey Brewer had 18 for the Timberwolves, who won for the fourth time in the last five games behind their star big man.

Love barely missed his second triple-double the last four days with nine assists. He had his first career triple-double with 37 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists in a win at Utah on Saturday. Love now has 10 30-point performances in his last 12 games and had 11 double-doubles during that span.

"That was a big win for us. We kind of owed them after being up on them in the fourth quarter at our place and Green hitting that shot," Love said. "It was in the back of our mind but we wanted to have some success in the second half especially that fourth quarter and we did. It was a different lineup we hadn't really seen and we had success with it."


With guard Kevin Martin and center Nikola Pekovic still sidelined with injuries, Muhammad played a career-high 24 minutes and hit eight of 13 shots from the field. He matched Love with 10 points in the final period.

"Coach (Rick Adelman) is always telling me to stay ready and wait for an opportunity and I think I had mine today," said Muhammad, acquired from Utah in a draft-night trade. "I really took advantage of the post and the stuff I like to do."

Forward Markeiff Morris had 24 points off the bench to lead the Suns, who lost back-to-back home games after winning three straight coming out of the All-Star break. Phoenix gave up 35 fourth-quarter points and blew a lead to the Houston Rockets on Sunday and surrendered 34 points in the fourth to the Timberwolves, committing four of their 19 turnovers in a critical two-minute span that decided the game.

The Suns outrebounded Minnesota 50-38 and had 18 offensive rebounds -- eight of them by forward P.J. Tucker. But the Suns managed just nine second-chance points to 18 for the Timberwolves, who made the most of their extra opportunities.

"It just one loss, it's just the way you lose it," Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek said. "Giving up points like that in the fourth quarter, you're not going to win games. These teams are good."

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Green added 19 points and guard Goran Dragic had 16 -- although he missed part of the second half with a sprained ankle and fouled out of the game with 3:46 left.

"In hindsight, maybe I should have just left him off of it," Hornacek said. "I think the momentum had swung prior to him fouling out anyway."

The Suns led 91-86 after a 3-point play by guard Ish Smith with 7:57 left. But Minnesota outscored the Suns 24-6 down the stretch, and Love and Muhammad had help. Forward Dante Cunningham had 12 points and gave Minnesota the lead for good at 98-97 on a 21-foot jumper with 3:04 left.

"With five minutes to go in the game, we said the team that makes the stops is going to win the game," Adelman said. "We were physical, we rebounded the ball well and we won the game."

Love took 10 shots in the first quarter and collected 14 points and five rebounds as the Timberwolves led by as many as eight points. Cunningham added eight points, including a 19-footer with 4.9 seconds left to give Minnesota a 34-28 lead.

The Phoenix bench answered in the second period. Markieff and forward Marcus Morris had 11 points during a 15-8 run to open the half, with a Marcus Morris 3-pointer giving the Suns a 43-42 lead. Guard Archie Goodwin, who had played in just one game since Feb. 1, had 10 first-half points and teamed with Smith to help the Suns to 18 fast-break points in the half.

The Suns led 57-51 before a 3-pointer from Brewer and Love free throw cut the deficit to 57-55 at the half.

NOTES: Minnesota is still without G Kevin Martin (left thumb), C Nikola Pekovic (right ankle) and C Ronny Turiaf (right knee). All of them are on the trip and close to returning. ... Neither team has been blown out often this season. Phoenix's 22 losses have come by an average of 7.5 points and Minnesota's 29 losses are by an average of 7.8 points, raking third and fourth best in the league. ... G Goran Dragic put up a career-high scoring game twice in the last 12 games, including his 35-point effort in Sunday's loss to Houston. He has averaged 23.7 points, 6.7 assists, 3.8 rebounds and 1.8 steals in those 12 games. ... Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said the Suns are more than just an offensive team. "They are very physical defensively," he said. "They grab, they hold, they do a good job of being physical with you." ... The Timberwolves are 9-0 this season when shooting at least 49 percent from the field, and the Suns are 12-0 when shooting 50 percent or better.

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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