Love leads Wolves into Phoenix
(SportsNetwork.com) - A pair of high-scoring teams from the Western Conference clash Tuesday in the desert, where Kevin Love and the Minnesota Timberwolves take on the Phoenix Suns.
The Timberwolves are fourth in the NBA with 105.6 points per game and the Suns sit right behind with 105.1 ppg. The T'Wolves are 6 1/2 games behind Phoenix for the eighth seed in the West.
Minnesota will visit the Suns after dropping a 108-97 decision at Portland on Sunday. Love ended with 31 points and 10 rebounds, and his string of 10 straight games with at least 25 points and 10 rebounds is the most in a single season since Utah Jazz Hall of Famer Karl Malone did it 10 times in 1991-92.
"A night like tonight hurts a lot," said Love, who is averaging 32.9 points and 13.8 rebounds in the last 11 games and was named Western Conference Player of the Week Monday. "It's a reminder to us that we need all our guys back."
J.J. Barea scored 21 points and Dante Cunningham added 12 for the Wolves, who had a three-game winning streak stopped and fell to 1-1 on a five-game western jaunt.
Minnesota, which fell to 8-24 when allowing 100-plus points, is 11-18 away from home this season and still has trips to Sacramento and Denver on the schedule.
The Wolves are still without guard Kevin Martin (thumb), but hope to get center Nikola Pekovic back Tuesday. Pekovic has been out since Jan. 27 because of a balky ankle and is averaging 18.0 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Phoenix will wrap up a four-game homestand versus Minnesota and had won three straight and four of five games until Sunday's 115-112 loss to Houston.
Goran Dragic scored 25 of his career-high 35 points in the first quarter and made 14-of-20 shots from the field in defeat. He is posting an average of 23.7 points in his last 12 games for the Suns, who rallied from an 18-point hole to grab an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
"We cannot afford to start the games like that," Dragic said of his team trailing 30-16 after 12 minutes. "We were down 18 points and it takes a lot of energy to come back. And after that, your tank is empty in the fourth quarter and because of that we lost the game."
Phoenix did have a 40-30 advantage in the second stanza and followed that with a 37-23 difference in the third. Houston, though, posted a 32-19 advantage in the decisive fourth quarter.
Patrick Beverley of the Rockets hit a 3-pointer to put his team ahead for good with 34.9 seconds left and Dragic's desperation shot was off the mark. Gerald Green and Markieff Morris scored 23 and 21 points, respectively.
Houston outscored Phoenix 64-42 in the paint.
The Suns have a 19-10 record at home and will visit Utah on Wednesday. They defeated the T'Wolves 104-103 back on Jan. 8, as Green hit the game-winning jump shot with 3.9 seconds left. The Suns are 14-5 in the last 19 games in this series and 11-3 in the past 14 meetings at US Airways Center.
02/25 10:14:17 ET