Despite being on the tail end of a back-to-back, the Suns came to Target Center winners of 4 of their last 5. Meanwhile the Wolves have dropped 7 in a row.
It unfolded as the David vs Goliath matchup it appeared to be.
Well, more like 2 Goliaths, as Devin Booker and Chris Paul were virtually unstoppable in the 2nd half. The Suns, who have had a history of playing down to their competition this season, looked expectably dreary to start the game. They basically allowed the Wolves to hang around for the first 35 minutes and 27 seconds.
At one point in the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was going to be death by DeAndre Ayton mid-rangers, but the Wolves would adjust (!!!) by denying him on nearly every possession, resulting in nearly 3 turnovers in a row. His night would get
worse shorter as KAT would astutely beat him off the dribble to get Ayton to commit his 4th foul.
Unfortunately, this would spell true death by Devin Booker mid-rangers. He would bend the Wolves to his will by scoring 21 of his season-high 41 points in the 3rd alone, including 5 points in final 15 seconds. That last fact does warrant some mentioning though. The Wolves end of quarter execution has continued to be laughable and in this game alone, check out how each of the first 3 quarters ended:
Not great, Mr. Finch.
Earlier, the Wolves were able to bounce back from end of quarter handicaps, but the transition of the Devin Demo in the 3rd into the Dario Demo in the 4th would be the end, as the latter would nail back-to-back treys to help put the Wolves down 20 early.
Finch: "Tonight I think they did a much better job competing throughout each play. We challenged much more shots tonight. It was the 3rd-4th qtr break. Even the Booker 3rd qtr we could survive for the most part. It was the start (of the 4th) that was the knockout punch."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) March 1, 2021
Same story, different night. The Wolves put up a fight in the first 3 quarters and it’s clear that their opponent can be asleep for the majority of the game to just wake up and crush the Timberwolves at any point. You know how it looks. Hands on hips. Heads down. Lackadaisical defense. Jacking up quick jumpers like they themselves wanted to head home early.
Devin Booker apologies to KAT for the beat down. pic.twitter.com/9JjGEG3bO3— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) March 1, 2021
As I mentioned in a previous thread, maybe it’s best to just enjoy some highlights and see if there’s going to be any systematic changes moving forward. Let’s get straight to the highlights and game notes.
Full game highlights
- Let’s talk about Anthony Edwards for a bit. Ant’s hard drives at the rim continue to look unstoppable. He hits holes in the defense like he’s a running back as he squirts into the paint and explodes up to the rim (SMUT). After his 2nd dunk of the 1st quarter, like a reward, he stepped into a 3 and knocked it down. In the next quarter, he drew some contact in transition and sank to 2 freebies. On the very next possession, he hit our old friend Dario Saric with a wicked crossover before pulling it back to cash in a 16-footer. He’s definitely not at that 2⁄3 drive, 1⁄3 jumpshot yet, but the gets closer to it, the closer to the MVP award he’ll get. He finished with 24 points on 36.4 FG% (2 three pointers), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 3 steals. Most importantly, Ant remains a ray of sunshine in this dark, dark time.
Edwards on lack of calls: "It's not discouraging. It is what it is, but I'm a rook. They're gonna come. Like how DBook got fouls today *nods* yeah... he got good calls. But it's respect so when I get that respect, I'll get those calls."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) March 1, 2021
- Karl-Anthony Towns finished with a very pedestrian (by his standards) stat line. 21 points on 16 shots, 10 rebounds, and 1 assist, steal, and block. It felt like he was struggling to get the ball. Part of it may have been his teammates not getting him the ball, but a big part of it was surely his inability to get position on that end of the court. He committed 2 offensive fouls (and nearly a 3rd, which fortunately was not called) in the first half, one generating a “... Karl!” out of Jim Peterson. It was in a stern voice that I imagine a bellowing dad would sound like if found his teenage son’s weed stash. Credit to the Suns for frustrating him by throwing bodies, arms, legs, and tails at KAT every time he tried to get going.
Towns called for his 16th offensive foul in 15 games — 30% (16 of 53) of his fouls this season have been called at the offensive end.— Alan Horton (@WolvesRadio) March 1, 2021
- Josh Okogie continues to look unplayable out there, going 0-5 and not doing much to slow down Booker. Both Jaylen Nowell and Jarrett Culver also had a nights to forget, combining to go 1-11 out there. These J’s gotta find their groove somehow.
- Sadly, Jaden McDaniels looked to be out of the rotation early today. He got a late 2nd quarter stint and immediately found himself isolated against Booker. Big Mac did what Big Mac do. He stymied Booker’s drive attempt and eventually forced him into a travel violation. Then we never got to see him again until garbage time.
Finch on Jaden's minutes: "He's played probably about 12-14 mins most nights. We're just trying some other things. I think one thing we need out there is ball skills at times. Someone who can put the ball on the deck. Maybe more experience, with Jake who was really good for us."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) March 1, 2021
- Jarred Vanderbilt continues to make plays on the defensive end. Sure, he still has cinderblocks for hands, but he appears to be a true positive contributor out there. Vando only got 15 minutes tonight, but it looks like we’re going to see more of him moving forward as well.
Finch on any pairings he's noticed: "I do like the Vando-KAT lineup. We probably just have to get more shooting around that."— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) March 1, 2021
- It saddens me to say this, but Ricky Rubio looks as defeated as I’ve ever seen him. I’ve seen him suffer season-ending injuries, just as hapless Wolves iterations, but today in the Zoom presser he looked like he was ready to give up. I don’t blame him, but he surely blames himself. This is perhaps the worst part of this season.
Ricky Rubio really defeated on Zoom. Talked about how winning culture isn't being built here and even named Trust The Process in Philly as something he doesn't believe in.— Ricky Rude-Leo (@Y0Leo) March 1, 2021
"If I knew, I would be the GM."— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) March 1, 2021
There's a lot to like about covering Ricky Rubio with one of being how he keeps it 100% when things aren't going well.
In the middle of a trainwreck season, Rubio answers questions about state of T-Wolves (7-28) after 8th straight loss. #Suns pic.twitter.com/RLHFcU81WN
- In addition to really finishing off the Wolves, Dario Saric hit a floater and a stepback 3-pointer tonight. *golf clap*
- Although Chris Paul finished with just 11 points and 15 assists, he was really cruising out there and the stat sheet is not indicative of his imprint on the game. In fact, 9 of his 11 came in the 4th when the firing squad was out in full force. Still a pro’s pro.