The Minnesota Timberwolves beat the Phoenix Suns 121-116 on Monday night. Andrew Wiggins led the team with 32 points, Karl-Anthony Towns recorded his 45th double-double (27 points, 10 rebounds) and Ricky Rubio had 17 points and 11 assists, his 14th double-double of the season.
Brandon Knight came out firing, scoring Phoenix’s first 13 points and finished the night with 30, but he did not score in the 4th quarter and only had three in the third. Devin Booker also finished with 30 points. Mirza Teletovic had 19 off the bench.
“It just seems like every night, somebody on the team that we’re playing just starts making ridiculous types of shots. And I just thought Brandon Knight in that first quarter was just (hot) and Ricky’s our best defender. What do you do?” said interim coach Sam Mitchell after the game.
“And then in the second half, we kinda got control of him, and then Booker kinda got it going and then Teletovic started making some shots. They’re big, they’re long with Chandler and Len, and they got those three guys that can make shots. It’s just tough to beat them.”
All five Wolves starters finished in double-digits. Minnesota had 19 off the bench, with Shabazz Muhammad accounting for 10 of those points. Alex Len finished with 14 for Phoenix; Ronnie Price had 12.
Minnesota had a 20-point lead late in the 3rd quarter, 99-79, but relinquished it late in the 4th. Phoenix led 109-108 with 4:06 to go in the game, but never had a lead larger than two.
Rubio made a critical steal that led to a LaVine dunk, putting the team up 117-112 with 1:43 to go.
Wiggins also had a critical rebound at 1:13 and hit a free throw to put the team up 118-114. A missed three-pointer by Teletovic with Phoenix behind 119-116 and two made free throws by Rubio with 5.1 to go sealed it.
“Nah, because we were up three,” Mitchell said when asked if he was worried when Teletovic took his three-point shot, knowing that he beat the Wolves in Phoenix on March 14. “So worst-case scenario, if he makes it, we get the ball with six-, seven-seconds chance to win the game.”
Muhammad referred to something assistant coach David Adelman told him when asked about losing the 20-point lead. “We’re a young team, and that’s something that [Adelman] always talks about, just keeping your foot down and…we kind of let our foot off the gasoline a little bit.”
On being aggressive and getting to the free throw line, Wiggins simply said that he “got to the rim” and that his teammates set good picks for him.
On the steal late in the game, Rubio said he took a calculated risk. “Booker is a great player, but he’s still not a good passer,” he said, “so he prefers to get to the rim, and I took the chance…I took a gamble.”
On his 45th double-double, Towns said. “I was hitting jump shots early, so the defense had to start respecting it.”