The Timberwolves and the Suns came into last night’s games in polar opposite situations.
Come summertime, the Wolves will be a team hoping luck is on their side come NBA draft lottery time. Their team hasn’t been healthy for quite some time, and the Kevin Garnett trade has helped change their defensive mindset a bit. And yet, while they’ll continue to compete, their fate is pretty set-in-stone.
The Suns are another story. They came into last night’s game with the knowledge that the Oklahoma City Thunder had fallen to the Clippers a few minutes prior to tip-off, an they knew this was a chance to close the 3-game gap for the final playoff spot.
Still, for a majority of the night, the Wolves were able to stick around for a majority of the night, thanks to an almost too balanced scoring effort from both the starters and the bench. The Wolves’ pine finished the night with an unusual level of offensive production, and seemed to be in the game for most of the Wolves’ positive stretches. They scored 53 of the team’s 97 points, all led by *clears throat* Justin Hamilton, who showed a lot of prowess on the offensive end, moving well without the ball and playing well off of Ricky Rubio.
Also having a successful night, more specifically a nice 2nd quarter, was the struggling Chase Budinger, who had his best game in over a month, also doing well off the ball and finishing shots inside he’s struggled to make for the majority of the year.
The Wolves’ starting lineup did not bring it. Ricky Rubio’s shot, specifically the arc on his shot, was inconsistent. Andrew Wiggins more or less disappeared after the first half, as did Adreian Payne (who really only put up numbers in the first quarter).
But the game didn’t really open up until the Suns, led by Markieff Morris and Eric Bledsoe, started to get hot late in the 3rd quarter and effectively put the game away and out of reach from the Wolves.
Maybe it was because the Suns turned it on to try to keep their playoff hopes alive, and maybe combined with the Wolves’ playoff hopes, which were tarnished early on for a myriad of reasons. Or, more likely, it was a basketball game where both teams played hard, and the better team got hot at the right time to put the game away.