The two games the Timberwolves have played against the Phoenix Suns have brought dramatically different results.
The first game, in early November, was the first one that reminded the Timberwolves that the season wasn’t going to be a cakewalk.
They lost that game in fairly convincing fashion, with T.J. Warren and Devin Booker doing the overwhelming majority of the work for the Suns.
The Wolves, meanwhile, shot just 40 percent from the field and 20 percent from deep. The offense looked stagnant and shots not taken by Andrew Wiggins appeared forced.
It was one of their lower points of the season.
Two weeks later, the same two teams faced off, but the on-paper favorites were more prepared.
The Wolves won the game by double digits, but still looked a bit out of sorts. They won by 11, but Booker was out and Eric Bledsoe had recently been traded to Milwaukee.
It felt like a game that should have been a blowout.
Part of the problem early was figuring out who the go-to guy was going to be. Lately, it seems as though Jimmy Butler has taken on that role, and isn’t going to give it up.
Still, his head coach Tom Thibodeau is aware of all the scoring options he has around him.
“Every night it should be someone different,” Thibodeau said at Saturday morning’s shootaround. “If they commit to putting two on Jimmy, just make the right play. It’s easy offense for the others.”
On Thursday, that person was Karl-Anthony Towns. After a self-proclaimed rough game against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, he had one of the more complete performances of his young career Thursday against the Sacramento Kings.
His 30 points, 14 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks are a statistical combination that has only been accomplished by one other Timberwolves player: Kevin Garnett.
“It’s fun to be able to be up there with big bro up there,” Towns said Saturday. “I told him I’m coming for all his records, so that’s one step closer to doing what I told him I’m going to do.”
For Thibodeau, the biggest thing is the blocks, most specifically how he’s positioning himself to get those blocks. He’s liked the improvement he’s seen from his center defensively in that regard, especially Thursday.
“Sometimes, [Towns] is coming down late, but his position initially is very good. So he’s got to fight that urge.”
- The Suns were without Booker during their second matchup with the Wolves, but will be without him Saturday for different reasons. Booker has been out since Dec. 3 with a groin injury.
- Tyson Chandler missed Phoenix’s most recent game – a Wednesday loss to the Toronto Raptors – for personal reasons, but is in Minnesota and will start.
- Nemanja Bjelica is still expected to be out for another week or so, according to Tom Thibodeau at Friday’s practice. He has been out of the rotation since Nov. 22.
- If you’re attending the game tonight, prepare your eyes. The Timberwolves will unveil their new neon green uniforms Saturday.