There are only 4 teams in the NBA with records currently worse than the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Phoenix Suns, who came up winners tonight in wild fashion, are currently one of them.
Tonight’s game was, at many points, one where their weaknesses showed, often times appearing as success for the team that didn’t mess up. Whether it was a missed defensive assignment, a botched layup, or a guy being too late on an outlet pass (did you see Rubio’s face!?), both teams’ lack of successes showed on several occasions throughout the night.
Of course, good things happened tonight, and some players played really well. Ricky Rubio had 12 first half assists, and was a catalyst for positive things happening the entire night. Hell, I’ll say it: Rubio did everything well. He doesn’t apply to a lot of this post. Hell, just look at this pass. (shouts to CJ Fogler)
But other players did good things, as well. Zach LaVine was as in rhythm as we’ve seen him this year, as he continues to look more and more comfortable playing with Ricky Rubio. Andrew Wiggins finished extremely well around the rim and showed strong effort defensively.
For the Suns, PJ Tucker shot the ball extremely well. Devin Booker, while not shooting as well as he could, helped suck in the defense the way a veteran does, and made good things happen when he was on the floor (he was a +16 on the night).
But, again, the Wolves and Suns both showed their inexperience and lack of completed talent. Take the first Wolves make of the game. Fun highlight and a good Rubio pass, yes. But who was guarding LaVine on this play? How many teams do the Wolves get away with this against?
The Wolves, of course, aren’t innocent in the “bad mental mistakes” department, either. Take late in the game, when Shabazz Muhammad led a 3-on-1 and made the worst decision possible: developed tunnel vision and took the charge.
— StreetHistory (@streethistory) March 15, 2016
The game ended much better than it started, especially in the final moments. Devin Booker capitalized on a questionable and-one finish and made the free throw to put the Suns up 2. Wiggins followed with a great take to the hole to tie the game up. A Mirza Teletovic rainbow finish won the game for the Suns to conclude a series of good basketball.
But that was, for the most part, the best of it. Yes, there was a low-key productive double double for Karl-Anthony Towns. Ricky Rubio managed to tie the franchise record in assists (AGAIN). Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine scored the ball well. But the game was, simply put, not pretty. Neither team played particularly well, and the bench’s scoreless second half didn’t help matters.
The Wolves have had games like this before with far worse results in terms of score differential. Tonight was a bit of exception, because the Phoenix Suns are in a similar boat this year. They’ve hung around towards the bottom of the standings for most of the year, and played like lottery teams tonight. Some of it was a lot of fun, but it wasn’t all that pretty.