Timberwolves vie for season sweep of Suns (Jan 24, 2017)

BY AP • January 23, 2017

The Minnesota Timberwolves will seek to complete their first season sweep of the Phoenix Suns in 13 years on Tuesday when the improving Western Conference clubs meet at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

The Timberwolves beat the Suns 98-85 in Phoenix in November, and repeated the result in a 115-108 victory in Minneapolis last month.

Minnesota has beaten Phoenix three straight times bridging back to the 2015-16 season.

Both clubs will take the court Tuesday on a bit of a roll.

The Timberwolves were just 11-22 on New Year's Day, but have since gone 5-6. They will take a two-game winning streak into the contest, looking to duplicate a three-game run they recorded earlier this month.

Minnesota got a boost from an unlikely source in Sunday's 111-108 home win over Denver. Rookie guard Kris Dunn responded to a rare start by recording a season-high-tying 10 points and nine assists to go with a season-best eight rebounds.

"He's been coming on for a while," Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau said of Dunn after the game. "His defense has been good from the beginning. Offensively, he's figuring it out."

Dunn, the No. 5 pick of the 2016 draft, was starting in place of Ricky Rubio, who left the club over the weekend following the death of his grandmother. The veteran point guard is expected to return for Tuesday's game.

Center Karl-Anthony Towns led the way against the Nuggets with a game-high 32 points. He had his third-highest scoring game of the season (37 points) in Thursday's 104-101 road win over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Towns has recorded a pair of double-doubles, averaging 25.0 points and 12.5 rebounds, in Minnesota's first two wins over Phoenix. But the Suns have gotten much better play from their center, Tyson Chandler, in recent games.

Chandler broke a 48-year-old franchise record in Saturday's 107-105 win at New York with a seventh consecutive game with 15 or more rebounds.

He had only nine rebounds in Sunday's 115-103 win at Toronto, but contributed 16 points to the cause.

The weekend sweep gave the Suns a 2-1 trip, their first winning trip of three or more games this season.

Eric Bledsoe was Phoenix's biggest offensive weapon Sunday, pouring in a career-best 40 points.

"Wow," Suns coach Earl Watson gushed to reporters after the game. "This is the best I've seen him."

Bledsoe has averaged 25.0 points in the two losses to Minnesota this season.

Like the Timberwolves, the Suns have stepped up their play in January. Phoenix has gone 5-5 this month, including wins over two division leaders -- San Antonio and Toronto.

The game matches teams that have been winning for different reasons of late.

Minnesota has limited seven of its last 12 opponents to 99 or fewer points.

Phoenix, meanwhile, hasn't held any foe to fewer than 103 points in its last seven games. But the Suns have scored 101 or more in eight straight, winning games in three countries -- the United States, Mexico and Canada -- along the way.



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