Knight redeems himself, leads Suns to victory 108-101 vs Wolves
The Minnesota Timberwolves gave the Phoenix Suns everything they could handle in the fourth quarter, but the Suns held on for the victory, 108-101. Tyson Chandler made his first appearance tonight after missing the last eight games due to a hamstring injury, coming off the bench to back up Alex Len.
Brandon Knight redeemed himself after a poor performance against the Portland Trailblazers on Friday, scoring 25 points on 9-19 shooting. Knight also added three rebounds, six assists, four steals, and two blocks to his stat line tonight. Eric Bledsoe had an impressive stat sheet as well, filling it up for 23 points, five rebounds, nine assists, four steals, and four blocks. Performances like this are everything you can ask for, and more, out of a point guard. Len, who has been playing great basketball as of late, had another solid game scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds. The Timberwolves were led by Zach LaVine, who came off the bench and scored a season high 28 points. The always crafty Kevin Martin also played well, getting to the line and converting 7-9 while picking up 19.
Len continued his impressive play from the past couple games right from the start, taking the ball aggressively to the rim and picking up fouls. He made it to the line eight times in the first quarter and converted on all of them. Knight got off to a hot start too, scoring nine in the quarter. This was encouraging to see after his 0-12 night on Friday. The Suns and Wolves felt each other out and played a close game through the quarter, ending it with the Wolves up two, 27-25.
Phoenix came out strong in the second quarter thanks to the youth of the team. Devin Booker and T.J. Warren both put in buckets to get the Suns the lead. Then, a Timberwolves youngster returned fire, as Zach LaVine started to heat up. LaVine scored a quick seven points in a row for the Timberwolves to keep the game within reach for them. The Sun’s looked a bit stagnant with the balls a couple times during this stretch, struggling to beat the shot clock on two possessions in a row. The defense then gave the team the spark they needed by picking up some quick fast break points, followed by shots starting to fall. Brandon Knight drilled his fourth three pointer of the night, capping off a 9-0 Suns run to extend the lead. The Suns went to the locker room for halftime leading the Wolves, 55-49.
The Suns got off to a hot start in the third quarter while the Wolves came out looking sluggish. Bledsoe and Knight had steals on back-to-back possessions that both ended with fast break dunks, bringing the Suns and the crowd to life. Turnovers were the stat of the third quarter, the Suns outscored the Wolves 35-6 off turnovers so far, with the Timberwolves having double (22) the turnovers compared to the Suns. Mirza Teletovic had a strong quarter, scoring six in a row during a 14-2 run to end the quarter.
With a 19 point lead heading into the fourth, Head Coach Jeff Hornacek had all of his starters on the bench to start the quarter. That didn’t last long though, as Minnesota went on a quick 9-0 blast right out of the gates to bring the game to within 10. Sadly, in this stretch Devin Booker finally missed a three pointer after hitting his last eight. Hornacek put his starters back in the game and it instantly paid off, seeing P.J. Tucker score his first and only three points of the night, burying a huge three pointer from the corner to kick-start the Suns back into gear. Bledsoe, obviously inspired, grabbed a steal and flushed one down on the fast break, and the Suns lead was back to 15 with seven minutes left to play. Knight hit three very clutch three pointers to keep the Timberwolves at bay from there on out, and the Suns held on for the 108-101 victory.
The Suns play the second half of a back-to-back tomorrow night in Dallas against the Mavericks. Tip-off is set for 6:30 MST.