Suns look to get back in win column vs. also-struggling Timberwolves

Minnesota and Phoenix have the second- and third-worst records in the Western Conference. The Timberwolves won the first matchup last month.
Bruce Kluckhohn/Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves have suffered some tough losses already this year, but none might have been harder to stomach than their late-game collapse on Saturday night against Houston.

The young Timberwolves led the Rockets by 12 points with just over two minutes to play. That lead was quickly squandered and Minnesota eventually lost in overtime.

It was a game the Timberwolves had in their grasp but instead turned it into their 19th loss of the year.

“That was unacceptable. We shouldn’t have lost that game,” guard Zach LaVine said after Minnesota’s collapse at Target Center. “We can’t just let that happen. We played too good of a game to let that slip through our fingers.”

The loss overshadowed another big night for second-year center Karl-Anthony Towns, who put together his second 40-point game of the season. Towns had 41 points and 15 rebounds, but James Harden and the rest of the Rockets still found a way to rally against Towns and the Timberwolves.

Now Minnesota (7-19) will try to forget about Saturday’s loss by hosting the Phoenix Suns (8-19) on Monday night in Minneapolis. Like the Timberwolves, the Suns have struggled to string together wins through the first quarter of the 2016-17 season.

The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona Plus and FOX Sports GO, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Phoenix enters Monday’s matchup having lost two straight and six of its last eight. The Suns dropped a road game Saturday at Oklahoma City 114-101.

As Thunder star Russell Westbrook has done to so many other teams, he put up a triple-double against Phoenix. His 28 points, 22 assists and 11 rebounds were all reasons the Suns suffered a double-digit loss.

Phoenix players couldn’t help but be impressed with the impressive statistics Westbrook keeps producing.

“You’re frustrated with the loss. You’re out there trying to win,” Suns big man Tyson Chandler told The Oklahoman after Saturday’s game. “But I’m a student of the game. I’ve always respected what he did, regardless of the numbers he’s putting up. He’s putting his will over the game.”

Minnesota and Phoenix have the second- and third-worst records in the Western Conference, respectively. While the Suns are just 4-11 on the road this season, the Timberwolves haven’t been much better at home. Minnesota’s record at Target Center is 3-10 after Saturday’s overtime loss.

The two teams met in early November in Phoenix, with the visiting Timberwolves leaving Arizona with a 98-85 win. In that game, a big fourth quarter by Minnesota was needed to claim the victory.

Andrew Wiggins scored 25 points in his first matchup with the Suns, and Towns had another double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds.

If Minnesota wants to secure another victory over Phoenix, the Timberwolves will have to have a short memory and forget about the way Saturday’s game against the Rockets fell apart in a hurry.

“We just let one go, that’s it,” Towns said Saturday. “We just have to move on to the next game and get ready.”