December 16, 2017, 11:15 pm
It was a rough night for the Wolves offensively. The Suns were giving them numerous opportunities to run away with the game, and their defense isn’t particularly strong, but the Wolves just couldn’t pull away. Eventually the Suns made their move when they could sniff out a win and locked it down 108-106.
This game was similar to the first meeting between the teams, where Minnesota was playing a bad game and let the Suns hang around until eventually losing the lead, and the game.
Just like last time poor shooting did them in. The Wolves shot just 42.1 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from beyond the arc and 70.8 percent from the line. The Suns turned the ball over 23 times with the majority coming in the first half.
They were just handing over the game on a silver platter, but the Wolves could only take an eight-point lead into halftime despite 18 first-half turnovers by the Suns.
Once the second half rolled around the Suns flipped the switch and started nailing their shots, particularly from deep. Phoenix figured out that if they were able to get penetration into the paint, open perimeter shooters would be ready to splash a 3-pointer.
As a result Dragan Bender and Troy Daniels caught fire just sitting the the corner catching kick-outs and pulling up. Bender scored 17 points to tie the team lead, and hit 5-of-8 on 3-pointers which was a career high for him.
Daniels also scored 17 points while hitting 4-of-6 3-pointers.
Neither player chipped in much else across the board, combining for three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block, but all the Suns needed from them tonight was their long distance accuracy.
Instead it was Alex Len and Isaiah Canaan who did the dirty work in the interior. Len scored 12 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, adding six assists, two steals and a block. Len was fantastic and made a few nice plays defensively as well, particularly late in the game blocking Butler’s potential game-tying shot under five seconds left in the game.
Canaan scored 15 points, dished seven assists and grabbed five rebounds. He also went 8-of-8 from the line, including three critical ones that put the Suns ahead with six seconds left.
It was a good defensive possession for the Wolves and they were able to take it down to the last seconds of the shot clock with Canaan facing the basket 30 feet away and Teague in his face. Isaiah threw a little pump fake and was able to get Teague to bite, who then fouled Canaan with 0.1 left on the shot clock, 6.1 on the game clock.
The Suns were down 106-105 at that moment. Canaan went on to make all three free-throws and ice the game. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Wolves, but certainly the Suns’ bench deserves a lot of credit. Canaan, Len, Daniels and Bender all came off the bench and were the keys to a second half victory.
Karl-Anthony Towns had another big game, scoring 28 points, with 11 rebounds, four assists, two steals and one block. He shot 7-of-17 from the field, 4-of-7 from beyond the arc and 10-of-12 from the line. No other player scored more than 18.
Taj Gibson posted a 18 point, 10 rebound double-double with two blocks and one assist. Both KAT and Taj played 40 minutes.
Butler scored only 10 points on 5-of-18 shooting. He hurt his back at one point and went to the locker room, but returned to the game. He was in obvious pain upon his return and might be considered questionable going forward. He still played 37 minutes.
Wiggins scored 13 points and fell in and out of the game. He only shot 5-of-16 from the field, but did swipe three steals and swat one block.
The bench was fairly poor, outside of Tyus Jones who scored 10 points on 3-of-3 shooting (2-of-2 on 3-pointers and 2-of-2 at the line), with one assist and three steals in only 13 minutes. Marcus Georges-Hunt also saw some action again, though only six minutes.
Overall it was a tough game with bad outcome. It was a game they could have won but didn’t capitalize on any of the opportunities. Next up they will complete the five-game homestand with the Portland Trailblazers on Monday.