Struggling Suns routed by Timberwolves
PHOENIX (AP) — Andrei Kirilenko scored 20 points and the Minnesota Timberwolves routed the slumping Phoenix Suns 117-86 on Friday night to snap a nine-game road losing streak.
Reserve Dante Cunningham added 18 points, Greg Stiemsma had 14 and four others were in double digits for the Timberwolves, who won for the fourth time in 16 games.
Minnesota set season highs for total points, first-half points (67) and second-quarter points (35) in snapping a 13-game road losing streak against Western Conference opponents.
Luis Scola had 17 points and 12 rebounds, and Goran Dragic added 13 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who have lost six of seven and eight of their past 10.
Phoenix’s last three losses have come by an average of 21 points.
The Suns came into the game with only one true center on the roster, little-used Hamid Haddadi, who has averaged 18 minutes since starter Marcin Gortat went out on March 6 with a Lisfranc strain in his right foot.
Jermaine O’Neal, Gortat’s regular backup, was out with a combination of a strained left calf muscle sustained in the Suns’ loss to Washington on Wednesday and a case of the flu.
Phoenix used the 6-foot-9 Scola as its nominal center, and Kirilenko and Nikola Pekovic wasted little time taking advantage of the Suns’ smaller lineup. Kirilenko scored five points to spark an 18-4 run as Minnesota extended an 11-10 lead to 29-14 with 1:24 left in the first quarter.
Overall, the two scored a combined 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting in the first half as Minnesota opened a 67-39 lead at the break.
Cunningham took over the Timberwolves’ offensive load in the third quarter, scoring 12 of his points on 5-of-5 shooting as Minnesota took a 95-69 lead after three.
NOTES: With the loss, the Suns officially have been relegated to the lottery for the third consecutive year. . The Suns are 2-7 without Gortat. . Phoenix will finish with at least its ninth-worst record in the team’s 43 seasons and needs to win seven of its final 12 to avoid the team’s fifth sub-30 win season. . The Timberwolves’ 95 points through three quarters were more than Minnesota has scored in 31 full games this season. . Phoenix also without G Jared Dudley, who also was out with the flu.