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Phoenix at Minnesota

Wolves snap own five-game losing streak, Suns' five-game win streak

CBSSports.com wire reports
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Maybe the Phoenix Suns were a little tired after scoring all those points on this road trip.

Maybe on the second game of a back-to-back, and the finale of a five-game trip, the NBA's offensive juggernaut took the league's worst team a little too lightly.

Or maybe the frigid Minnesota winter chilled Steve Nash and the red-hot Suns on a day when temperatures dipped well below zero.

Whatever the reason, the success-starved Timberwolves will take any win they can get, any way they can get it.

The magnificent Suns offense fell flat in the second half and Al Jefferson tied a career high with 32 points to go with 20 rebounds to carry the Timberwolves to a 100-93 victory on Saturday night.

"Whatever it was, we're glad to have it," Jefferson said.

The Timberwolves entered the game with a league-worst 2-15 record, but dominated on the boards to snap a five-game losing streak.

Marko Jaric added 19 points and Craig Smith had 16 points and eight rebounds for the Wolves, who outrebounded Phoenix 55-33.

Steve Nash had 14 points and 15 assists and Leandro Barbosa scored 16 of his 17 points in the first half for the Suns, who wore down in their fourth game in five nights.

Phoenix (16-5) shot 58 percent in the first half to take a 56-55 lead, but hit just 32.5 percent in the second half to let the game slip away.

"It's definitely not fun losing to a team that's only won two games in a season," said Amare Stoudemire, who had 16 points. "This should be a self-check. We should look at this and take this game into consideration and know we've got to step it up a notch."

The game was eerily similar to the last Wolves victory in this series, which came on Jan. 29 of last season. Kevin Garnett scored 44 points to almost singlehandedly snap the Suns' 17-game winning streak.

"I can't remember that night," Jaric said. "But definitely this season, it's the biggest of all three of our victories."

Jaric let out a chuckle as he said that, and the locker room erupted with laughter for one of the few times in what has otherwise been a miserable season.

Garnett, of course, was traded to Boston in the offseason, with Jefferson the headliner of a seven-player package that came to Minnesota.

The comparisons will always be unfair, but Jefferson was KG-like on Saturday night.

Coming into the game, Garnett was the only player in franchise history to have 30 points and 20 rebounds in the same game. He did it eight times in 12 brilliant seasons here, and now he has some company.

Jefferson scored 10 straight points in a 10:33 stretch spanning the third and fourth quarters and played great defense down low on Stoudemire and Shawn Marion.

"Al Jefferson was a beast down there," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.

The 93 points were a season low for the high-powered Suns, who once again have been lighting up the NBA.

It's no surprise to see the Suns running and gunning Wild Wild West style again this season, but this recent stretch was impressive even by their pedal-to-the-metal standards.

Phoenix entered the game averaging 124.3 points per game in its last three, numbers that would make even Lafayette Lever and those shoot-first, ask-questions-later Denver Nuggets teams of the 1980s jealous.

The Suns had topped 110 points in eight of their last nine, and looked to be on their game early on Saturday night.

Nash had seven assists in the first quarter, leading a layup line for the Suns on their way to the Wolves basket.

Yet even while allowing the Suns to shoot 58 percent and roll up 56 points in the first half, the young Timberwolves hung right with them.

Jefferson had 18 points and nine rebounds in the first 24 minutes and the Wolves pounded the offensive glass to keep things close.

"We held the Phoenix Suns under 100 points," Jefferson said, almost bewildered by the thought.

And in a season in which these Wolves always seem to fade down the stretch, they saved their best play for last in this one.

They closed the third period with a 14-4 run and held the Suns to a season-low 13 points in the fourth quarter to close out an improbable victory.

D'Antoni said his team just "got in a little funk" and he was disappointed to see his players bicker with the officials and each other. But as usual, he simply shrugged his shoulders and brushed it off.

"Chalk it up as one of the few games we'll lose this year," D'Antoni said. "We'll move on and see what else we can do."

Notes

  • Timberwolves G Greg Buckner was deactivated with a calf strain and Antoine Walker (ankle) did not dress.
  • Nash had at least 14 assists for the sixth straight game.
  • Stoudemire was held under 25 points for the first time in five games.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Al Jefferson, who matches his career high in points, shoots over Amare Stoudemire in the fourth. (AP)
Al Jefferson, who matches his career high in points, shoots over Amare Stoudemire in the fourth. (AP)

Scoreboard
Phoenix (16-5) 3224241393
Minnesota (3-15) «28273213100
PHO:S. Marion 18 Pts
PHO:B. Skinner 9 Reb
PHO:S. Nash 15 Ast
MIN:A. Jefferson 32 Pts
MIN:A. Jefferson 20 Reb
MIN:S. Telfair 6 Ast
Players of the Game
MinnesotaPhoenix

A. Jefferson

S. Nash
PtsRebsAstPtsRebsAst
3220214415
Phoenix
S. Nash, PG395-142-2415014
G. Hill, SG376-131-143313
S. Marion, PF377-124-562218
A. Stoudemire, C347-122-552516
R. Bell, SG312-100-02346
L. Barbosa, PG297-141-221317
B. Skinner, PF162-50-09024
B. Diaw, SF162-30-01315
E. Piatkowski, SGDid Not Play
S. Marks, CDid Not Play
M. Banks, PGDid Not Play
D. Strawberry, SGDid Not Play
A. Tucker, SFDid Not Play
Totals 38-8310-1533292093
 45.8%66.7% 
Minnesota
A. Jefferson, PF4213-266-8202132
M. Jaric, SF407-113-525519
S. Telfair, PG395-120-016310
C. Smith, PF367-112-280216
C. Brewer, SF313-100-211446
R. McCants, SG233-112-230110
R. Gomes, PF192-73-37017
C. Richard, PF100-20-03010
T. Ratliff, CDid Not Play
A. Walker, SFDid Not Play
G. Buckner, SGDid Not Play
M. Doleac, CDid Not Play
M. Madsen, PFDid Not Play
G. Green, SGDid Not Play
R. Foye, PGDid Not Play
Totals 40-9016-22551718100
 44.4%72.7% 
Other Games
Mem 78 Final
Atl 86
Cle 93 Final
Char 96
Phi 105 Final
NY 77
Bos 92 Final
Chi 81
Utah 117 Final
Dal 125
Sac 97 Final
Den 101