PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Suns are back on the winning end of a blowout and have a third consecutive Pacific Division title to show for it.
The Suns said the division championship was nice but not all that important in the larger picture.
"That means we've had a good regular season and we've positioned ourselves well for the playoffs," Bell said, "but the ultimate goal is winning a championship. We understand we've got some work to do."
Kevin Garnett had 30 points and 16 rebounds in the Timberwolves' 11th consecutive road loss. With two more stops on this five-game trip, Minnesota is fading out of the fight for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"The panic button has been hit," Garnett said. "We've got to win these last two bar none. I don't know how to say it anymore. The urgency is there if we're trying to make the playoffs."
The Suns had followed their emotional win in Dallas last week with consecutive one-sided defeats -- by a combined 46 points -- at home to Detroit and at Denver. So it was a relief for coach Mike D'Antoni to see his team put together a strong effort. The division title was simply a byproduct.
"We have loftier goals," D'Antoni said, "so it's something good, but again it would have been better if we didn't have this little funk that we've been in. There were some positive signs out there that we'll be back. So overall, it's pretty good."
The Suns finally got their high-speed offense going in the third quarter, taking control with 10-0 and 14-0 runs.
Bell, 1-of-6 shooting in the first half, was 6 of 7 in the third quarter, 4 of 5 on 3-pointers. He finished 6 of 9 on 3s.
"I've been forcing it probably the last three nights, just trying to find some rhythm," Bell said. "I talked to my wife at halftime, and she said, `Just have fun, relax, play and have fun.' Sometimes you've got to hear that. Sometimes it starts to weigh on you that you haven't made a shot, and that you're struggling."
Minnesota is 2½ games behind Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers for the conference's final playoff berth.
"I'm motivated right now for the playoffs, and that's my goal personally," Garnett said. "If I lead, hopefully they'll follow, and half the time they will."
The Suns rolled despite an off night from Amare Stoudemire, who had four points and two rebounds in 22 foul-plagued minutes for Phoenix.
Down by 16 in the second quarter, Minnesota rallied to tie at 58 on Ricky Davis' 21-footer with 8:42 left in the third.
Bell scored the last eight in a 10-0 spurt that gave Phoenix the lead for good with 6:24 to go in the third. After the Timberwolves cut the lead to 68-63, the Suns scored the next 14. Diaw scored five, including a fastbreak dunk on a pass from Bell that turned into a three-point play.
Phoenix led 84-67 entering the fourth period and built a 91-71 lead after Diaw's spinning drive to the basket.
"They're going to make runs and we get to pointing fingers at each other instead of coming together," Minnesota coach Randy Wittman said.
The Suns missed seven consecutive shots in one early stretch, but went on a 20-5 run at the end of the first quarter and start of the second to go up 39-27 on Diaw's driving layup.
The lead reached 47-31 on Jalen Rose's 3-pointer 3:53 before the break, but the Timberwolves outscored Phoenix 16-4 the rest of the half. Mike James' 3-pointer at the buzzer cut the lead to 51-47 at halftime.
Garnett had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the first half.
|Steve Nash soaks in the Suns' third straight division title while taking an unofficial rest break. (AP)|
|Phoenix (51-16) «||25||26||33||24||108|
|MIN:K. Garnett 30 Pts
MIN:K. Garnett 16 Reb
MIN:M. Jaric 9 Ast
|PHO:R. Bell 22 Pts
PHO:S. Marion 10 Reb
PHO:S. Nash 11 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|K. Garnett, PF||38||11-20||8-8||16||1||1||30|
|R. Davis, SG||36||4-12||0-0||4||6||1||9|
|M. Jaric, PG||33||2-7||0-0||5||9||4||4|
|M. Blount, C||31||4-12||2-2||11||0||0||10|
|M. James, PG||28||5-11||0-0||4||2||1||13|
|R. McCants, SG||21||1-6||2-2||1||1||0||4|
|R. Foye, PG||20||2-10||0-0||0||1||1||4|
|C. Smith, PF||19||4-5||6-9||5||0||3||14|
|T. Hassell, SF||6||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|M. Madsen, C||4||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|J. Reed, SF||3||1-2||0-0||0||0||0||2|
|T. Hudson, PG||Did Not Play|
|B. Wright, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|L. Barbosa, PG||39||8-19||0-0||3||6||2||20|
|R. Bell, SG||34||8-16||0-0||3||2||1||22|
|S. Nash, PG||33||7-12||0-2||5||11||1||18|
|S. Marion, SF||28||6-13||0-0||10||0||1||12|
|A. Stoudemire, C||21||2-5||0-0||2||0||4||4|
|B. Diaw, SF||30||5-6||1-1||6||9||2||11|
|K. Thomas, PF||23||3-6||0-0||9||1||1||6|
|J. Jones, SF||15||2-8||1-1||1||1||2||5|
|J. Rose, SG||14||3-6||0-0||1||0||3||8|
|P. Burke, C||3||1-2||0-0||2||0||0||2|
|E. Piatkowski, SG||Did Not Play|
|S. Marks, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Jones, SF||Did Not Play|
|M. Banks, PG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|