NBA Game Summary - Phoenix at Minnesota
(Sunday, March 23rd)
Final Score: Phoenix 127, Minnesota 120
Minneapolis, MN (SportsNetwork.com) - Eric Bledsoe's layup off a Markieff Morris steal snapped a tie game with 48.6 seconds left, capping a furious comeback that lifted the Phoenix Suns to a 127-120 decision over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The Suns trailed by as many as 22 points in the first half and were down 103-93 entering the fourth quarter, but got nine points out of Bledsoe and eight from P.J. Tucker in the final period to rally for their fifth win in six games.
Morris finished with 25 points on 10-of-13 shooting off the bench and Bledsoe had 21, with Tucker adding 19 points and Goran Dragic contributing 18.
"Somehow they ended up pulling that game out," Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek said of his squad rallying in the second half. "It's a great thing to know as a coach, that your guys never give up."
Kevin Love racked up 36 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists for the Timberwolves, but his turnover in the final minute helped send Minnesota to back-to-back losses for the first time since the All-Star break.
"They're ahead of us (in the standings), obviously we looked at that. That was our playoffs right there and we lost," Love said of losing ground in the playoff race. "It hurts a lot more than others."
Kevin Martin scored 25 points in a losing cause, while Ricky Rubio tallied 19 with nine assists.
After slowly chipping away at their large early deficit, the Suns grabbed their first lead since the game's early stages when a 10-0 run -- ending on a Dragic 3-pointer with 7:14 remaining -- put them ahead by a 107-106 count.
The game went back-and-forth the rest of the way, with Rubio's two free throws giving Minnesota a 118-115 edge with 1:56 left. Morris then went 1-of-2 from the line and Dragic found Tucker for a short runner after Love misfired on the other end to knot the score with 1:06 to go.
Love then attempted to dribble in close but had the ball stripped by Morris, leading to Bledsoe's go-ahead layup for a 120-118 Phoenix lead.
The Timberwolves' next trip down the court ended in Love missing a corner 3- point try, and Bledsoe and Tucker combined to hit four straight free throws to seal the outcome.
Love put up nine points in the second quarter, which the Timberwolves began with an 8-0 flurry to own a commanding 49-27 cushion just over a minute in.
Morris then led Phoenix on a 14-4 push that trimmed the deficit to 53-41 with 6:50 to go in the half, and the Suns pulled within 73-62 at the break following Bledsoe's 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Phoenix closed the gap further early in the third quarter, with Bledsoe's 3- point play igniting a 6-0 stretch that trimmed the lead to 79-73 with just over four minutes elapsed in the second half. It was a five-point game after Markieff Morris buried a trey midway through the period to make the score 85-80.
The Timberwolves responded, with Corey Brewer accounting for five points during a 9-2 spurt that sent the differential back to double digits. Minnesota went into the fourth quarter up by a 103-93 count.
Minnesota shot a scorching 64 percent in building a 41-27 advantage after one quarter behind 10 points from Love and nine each from Martin and Corey Brewer. Much of the damage came during a 14-0 run fueled by Martin, who dropped in eight points during the surge. His jumper and free throw with 5:01 left in the frame Minnesota to a 25-13 lead, which was extended when Love found Giorgui Dieng underneath on the T-Wolves' next possession.
Phoenix is now 17-2 this season when Bledsoe scores 15 points or more ... The Suns have prevailed in eight of their last 10 visits to the Target Center, including a 104-103 win on Jan. 8 ... Minnesota's 73 first-half points was its highest total of the season, bettering a 70-point total set twice previously and most recently at Philadelphia on Jan. 6 ... Dieng made his fourth straight start in place of center Nikola Pekovic, sidelined with a right ankle injury.
03/23 21:28:49 ET