Wolves vs. Suns
Phoenix is Minnesota's second stop on its four-game road trip, and the game promises to be a competitive--yet attainable--win for the young team. The Suns are no longer looking at the playoffs, as their record worsened after trading Goran Dragic and they are now sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference.
The Wolves are 1-2 against Phoenix this season. They lost two games in January, including a nail-biter finish on Jan. 7, but they snuck away with a 111-109 home win on Feb. 20, which was the teams' last meeting.
In that game, Minnesota had strong performances from multiple players, including three double-doubles on the evening. Nikola Pekovic finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds, Ricky Rubio had 10 points and 14 assists, and center Gorgui Dieng came off the bench to add 15 points and 12 rebounds. Kevin Martin and Andrew Wiggins were explosive as well, combining for an impressive 48 points.
On the Suns' side, twins Markieff and Marcus Morris combined for 45 points, and Eric Bledsoe, Gerald Green and Archie Goodwin added 12 points apiece.
At that point, Phoenix had just traded Dragic and acquired Brandon Knight, but he didn't play in the Feb. 20 game. Knight, who is currently averaging 17.2 points and 5.3 assists per game, is sidelined with an ankle injury, which will certainly act to Minnesota's benefit.
Both teams are coming off Monday night losses. The Wolves fell 89-76 against the Clippers in a game that had very few bright spots. The biggest positive, though, was a career night for rookie Adreian Payne. The forward contributed 16 points and 15 rebounds, becoming the first rookie this season to accomplish those kinds of numbers. Pekovic also had a solid night with 12 points and 10 rebounds, but the Wolves shot only 37.3 percent from the field. Although Kevin Garnett is projected to start Wednesday, Payne will offer a strong reserve option from the bench.
The Suns suffered a 98-80 loss at home to the Golden State Warriors Monday. Alex Len notched a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Phoenix is averaging 90.7 points and 17 turnovers over the past six games.
"It's tough, because we're doing it to ourselves," said forward P.J. Tucker. "We can score the ball. We're just not putting ourselves in position to be able to do it. We're not moving the ball well."
Eric Bledsoe vs. Ricky Rubio. Rubio is averaging career-high numbers with 11 points, 5.8 rebounds and 9.2 assists per game. However, his shooting was terrible Monday night, and he will have to step it up Wednesday. He is currently shooting 35.7 percent from the field and making less than 30 percent of his 3-point attempts.
Bledsoe is averaging 17.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game, and he is one of the more athletic point guards in the league. Bledsoe will prove a challenging matchup for Rubio.
The Suns will be without Knight, who left Monday's game with a sprained ankle. Len (ankle) is currently listed as probable.
Minnesota is still missing Anthony Bennett (ankle), Robbie Hummel (hand), and Shabazz Muhammad, who is out for the season after having surgery on his finger.
LATE UPDATE: No Garnett again tonight. Clearly there is a problem.
Here's a link to the always excellent Bright Side Of The Sun.
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