The Minnesota Timberwolves had their run of high-scoring efforts snapped this weekend but could get another streak going with a matchup against one of the league's worst defensive teams.
The Timberwolves have usually had no problem scoring in recent home games against the Phoenix Suns and will try for another such performance Monday night.
Minnesota (24-49) averaged 113.0 points on 50.6 percent shooting over a 3-3 stretch, 11.7 more than in its first 66 contests, but connected at 38.1 percent in a 93-84 loss to Utah on Saturday. With 23 points, Ricky Rubio was one of three Timberwolves in double figures in his team's fourth game in six days.
“The thing I like about our guys, the focus was there, the effort was there,” coach Sam Mitchell said. “The bodies just weren't there.”
Minnesota will next face a team that's giving up 107.6 points per game and an average of 114.5 in its last four road losses.
The Timberwolves beat the Suns 117-87 at home Jan. 17, and are averaging 114.8 points in the last four meetings at the Target Center. Minnesota shot 56.5 percent in the January matchup and had seven players in double figures, led by 18 from Rubio and Andrew Wiggins.
Rubio had a career high-tying 17 assists and Zach Levine scored 28 at Phoenix on March 14, but the Suns won 107-104 on Mirza Teletovic's 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left.
Phoenix (20-53) dropped back-to-back games this weekend, coming up just short from a 20-point third-quarter deficit in Saturday's 102-99 loss to Boston.
“We understand the way we played the second half is the way we need to start the game,” coach Earl Watson said.
Devin Booker scored 21 points, giving him an average of 25.0 in his last three contests, but Phoenix is shooting 25.4 percent from 3-point range in its last two.
The Suns are on track for their worst finish since going 16-66 in their inaugural 1968-69 season.
They need at least five wins in their final nine games to avoid matching the 2011-12 team for the second-worst in franchise history. Playing five of those on the road wouldn't appear to help their cause as they're 7-29 away from home and have lost 21 of 24 there.
Minnesota could face a short-handed team in this game as the statuses of big men Tyson Chandler (back spasms) and Jon Leuer (illness) are unclear for Phoenix.
If those players are missing, Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns will try to take advantage and boost his 24.6-point average in his last five games.
In three games against the Suns, however, the rookie is averaging 13.0 points – tied for his lowest against any Western Conference foe.
LaVine has helped pick up the scoring slack, averaging 22.3 points in three matchups – his best against any West club.
Booker is averaging 13.5 points in the last two games versus Minnesota.