NBA Basketball
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Final 1 2 3 4 Tot
Phoenix 22 20 35 31 108
Minnesota 25 25 31 25 106
5:00 PM PT6:00 PM MT7:00 PM CT8:00 PM ET1:00 GMT9:00 6:00 PM MST8:00 PM EST5:00 UAE (+1)02:0020:00 ET7:00 PM CTNaN:� , December 16, 2017
Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota  Attendance: 18,109

Timberwolves take on slumping Suns

According to STATS
According to STATS

Phoenix Suns at Minnesota Timberwolves

  1. Phoenix and Minnesota have split their two meetings in 2017-18, with the home team winning each contest. With their 119-108 victory on November 26, the Timberwolves have now won their last five home contests in this series.
  2. The Suns have an assist-to-field-goal made rate of .508; entering this weekend, that ranked next to last in the NBA. Their 20.0 APG rate, meanwhile, was also next to last in the league entering this weekend.
  3. The Timberwolves are averaging 9.2 fast break points per game this season, compared to their opponents' 13.1 PPG. Entering this weekend, that -3.9 PPG differential was fourth worst in the NBA.
  4. Troy Daniels had a career-high 32 points and went 7-for-10 from three-point range in Wednesday's loss to the Raptors. The 32 points were the most by any Suns' player off the bench since Marcus Morris had 34 versus the Jazz on February 6, 2015.
  5. Karl-Anthony Towns had 30 points, 14 rebounds, five assists and five blocked shots in Thursday's win over the Kings. It was the first 30/10/5/5 game of his career; entering this weekend, he was one of four players to have a 30/10/5/5 performance in 2017-18.
  6. Jimmy Butler has had 25 points and five assists in both games between the Suns and the Timberwolves this season. Overall, he has had 20+ points and 5+ assists in four consecutive games versus the Suns.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Karl-Anthony Towns is a young, talented and proud player, but the Minnesota Timberwolves' star center's pride took a big hit when his Philadelphia 76ers counterpart, Joel Embiid, left Minneapolis on Tuesday with a near triple-double (28 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists) and a 118-112 Sixers' win.

Towns publicly shamed himself afterward, shouldering the blame for Embiid's monster game and his team's loss. Two nights later, Towns funneled that frustration into a 30-point, 14-rebound and a season-high five-block performance in Minnesota's 119-96 home win over the Sacramento Kings.

"I came to be an assassin tonight, not a basketball player," Towns said Thursday night. "I wanted to try to be as active as possible and just disrupt the game as much as possible as well."

Towns added five assists as the trio of Towns, Jimmy Butler and point guard Jeff Teague combined for 20 of the Timberwolves' 29 assists.

"When we play like that and share the ball, we're going to score," said coach Tom Thibodeau, whose Timberwolves host the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.

Towns praised his team's effort on both ends of the court.

"We did a great job with team defense, stopping the transition points, which has been a problem for us," Towns said. "We did a great job of alleviating that tonight."

In its three December losses, Minnesota (17-12) has averaged nearly an 11-point deficit in fast-break points whereas the Timberwolves have outscored their opponents by an average of six points per game on the break in four wins this month.

For the season, Minnesota is in the NBA's bottom 10 in both fast-break points scored (9.2) and allowed (13.0) per game. After being outscored 14-5 on fast-break points by Philadelphia on Tuesday, the Wolves topped the Kings 13-3 in Thursday's win.

Minnesota hopes to build off that against a Suns team allowing 13.7 points per game in transition, but the Timberwolves don't expect much of a defensive battle when the Suns visit Target Center.

The NBA's 25th (Minnesota) and 30th (Phoenix) rated teams defensively have split two previous meetings this season with each team winning on its home floor and averaging a combined 228 points per game.

Phoenix (9-21) arrives in Minneapolis having dropped each of its last five games and 10 of its last 12 following Wednesday's 115-109 home loss to Toronto. The Suns are 0-4 since losing leading scorer Devin Booker (24.3 points) to an adductor injury, and frustration is mounting.

"We want to get some wins," point guard Tyler Ulis told the Arizona Republic. "We're going out there and fighting, playing our hearts out, but we just want to come up with a couple."

The Suns battled the No. 3 team in the East hard, but came up short despite 55 points from the bench, including a career-high 32 points and seven 3-pointers from Troy Daniels.

The Suns' bench ranks eighth in the NBA with 39.4 points per game, while Minnesota's 25.7-point bench average is 27th in the league.

"I thought our bench was really good tonight, and that's why they played as many minutes as they did," Phoenix coach Jay Triano said. "We rolled with them because they were earning the minutes."

Daniels made seven of his 10 3-point attempts to join Wesley Person as the only Suns player with multiple games of seven-plus triples off the bench in a season.

"We tried to keep him on the floor as much as we can," Triano said. "He's got an NBA skill of being able to really shoot the basketball and it's good to see him have a great night."

"My teammates were finding me," said Daniels who is averaging 14.8 points on 50.0 percent shooting from the field and 43.6 percent from 3-point range. "I had a couple go in early, which is very important, and the rest were just falling."

His teammates struggled from beyond the arc, however, going just 1 of 14 from long range. Phoenix ranks 29th in the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage (32.9), but the Timberwolves don't offer much in the way of deep threats either. Minnesota ranks in the bottom five in the NBA in 3-point attempts (22.8) and makes (8.1) and are No. 21 in percentage (35.8).

Phoenix has won nine of its last 16 games at Target Center where Minnesota's 10-5 home record this season matches its second-best 15-game start at home in club history. The Suns lead the all-time series 68-39, including 29-23 in Minnesota.

Updated December 15, 2017

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