The old timers got the best of the up and coming younglings from Minnesota on Thursday as Grant Hill threw down 20 points to power the Suns past the Wolves late.
The matchup everyone wanted to watch was seasoned veteran Steve Nash taking on Ricky Rubio, a player Nash came very close to mentoring this offseason. There was mentoring to be had on Thursday with Nash matching Rubio’s point total but besting Rubio’s rebounding total 17-2.
“He knows how to play, he’s smart and like I said, he’s one of the best ever,” Rubio said of Nash. “He knows how to control the game and he passes very well, which option he has to find for the team and he just runs it and does it.”
All 10 starters in the game reached or eclipsed at least 12 points with Grant Hill leading the way for Phoenix with his 20 but Kevin Love leading the way on both teams with 23.
Love returned after missing Wednesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. His first game back saw him grab 10 boards and drain all six of his free throw attempts.
The Wolves All-Star was well aware of how quickly and how ugly the collapse for Minnesota was, and was less then pleased after the game.
“It just got out of control and the wheels came off,” Love said. “Third game in three nights for all these guys and for me being sick, I think we had tired legs down the stretch and it caught up to us.”
It was the second three game stretch for the Wolves this season, the last of which ended at home with a similar loss to the Chicago Bulls. The only light moment for the Wolves was when Ricky Rubio attempted an ally-oop to Martel Webster but the ball became wedged in between the backboard and the rim.
The tale of two halves saw the Timberwolves shoot 50 percent in the first half but they faltered horribly in the second half shooting 29 percent. Love hit just three buckets and the absence of J.J. Barera was felt was Luke Ridnour was unable to pick up the slack of RIcky Rubio.
Minnesota took a 72-67 lead late but the Suns took off on a 13-3 run and allowed the Wolves to pull within two just twice the rest of the game.
The Wolves haven’t beaten the Suns since 2009, which is the longest active streak for the Suns against an opponent. Minnesota will take their talents to Portland on Saturday before retreating back to the den in Minnesota for a four game home-stand against both L.A. teams, the Hornets and the very same Portland team they get Saturday.
The loss to the Suns drops the Wolves back under .500 and sets them back in their quest to make the Western Conference playoffs. It doesn’t derail the Wolves plans but they need to start to hone their skills if they want to be more then just an improvement team.
Next 3 Games:
3/3 – @Trailblazers 9pm on NBATV
3/5 – Vs. Clippers 7pm
3/7 – Vs. Trailblazers 7pm