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Timberwolves at Suns, Mike Malone Consults, Martin Nears Return

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The Wolves are in Phoenix to take on the Suns tonight at 8:00 pm CST.

Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Last week, in a rare appearance on ESPN, the Wolves played a surprisingly competitive game against the Suns, ultimately falling 113-111 when Andrew Wiggins' three at the buzzer came off the rim. It was one of the more entertaining games of the season for the Wolves, though ultimately it was only that close because the Suns shot uncharacteristically poorly from beyond the arc, making only 5 of 26 attempts.

Wiggins had a good scoring night with 25 on 10 of 16, and showed off his strengths before a national television audience, though his six turnovers marred what was otherwise an outstanding performance. Mo Williams had 23 in the losing effort. The Wolves were unable to stop the Suns perimeter guys, as their three point guards combined for 59 points and Gerald Green added 21, including several back breaking jumpers off the dribble in the 4th quarter.

Overall, the Suns come in 23-18, having lost to the Spurs and Grizzlies and beaten the Cavs since they were in Minneapolis. They are holding the 8th spot in the Wesetern Conference. They are playing good offense at a high pace led by their perimeter stars and quality depth. They are one of the better shooting teams in the league, and 2nd year center Alex Len is emerging as a quality big man.

The Wolves will need to be good on the offensive glass and win the turnover battle (two areas the Suns struggle) to stay in this one, as the Suns are just much better at putting the ball in the basket than the Wolves. Turnovers really hurt the Wolves in the meeting at Target Center, and they must minimize them both because they can't afford empty possessions and they can't invite the Suns to run anymore than they are already going to.

Elsewhere, former Kings coach Mike Malone has joined the Wolves for the remainder of the road trip, ostensibly to consult, hopefully on some defensive concepts. Any defensive concepts.. It sounds as if it's just a get-to-know-you visit and it's unlikely anything will come of it, but it's good to see someone from outside the country club get an invitation.

Kevin Martin sounds like the closest to return of the injured Wolves; it wouldn't shock to see him before this road trip ends, though my gut is they hold him out until the team gets home. Still, he sounds very close to ready, and the Wolves could use the reinforcements. It would be nice to see the whole team intact for a chunk of games this season, though who knows if that will ever happen?

Today in History

27 BC: Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian is given the title "Augustus" by Roman Senate
1412: Medici family named official banker of the Papacy
1493: Columbus leaves the New World to return to Spain
1581: English Parliament passes law against Catholocism
1793: Louis XVI sentenced to death 
1871: Jefferson Long of Ga. sworn in as 2nd black congressman
1920: 18th Amendment (Prohibition) ratified 
1944: Eisenhower takes command of Allied Invasion Force in London

Today's musical birthday is Aaliyah Dana Haughton, born in 1979 (d. 2001)

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Friday.