Jan. 30, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA: Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic (1) against the Los Angeles Lakers at the US Airways Center. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (20-33) @ Phoenix Suns (18-39)

The masochistic exercise of watching the Wolves for wins has long been replaced by watching for player development and small victories in the game itself. On Sunday that battle within the battle was Ricky Rubio v. Steph Curry, and watching Rubio get in Curry’s head was a thing of beauty — even if the outcome was not.

Tonight’s matchup is no less intriguing, as Goran Dragic has long brought it in his matchup with Rubio. Which is to say, as long as the season and a half Rubio’s been in the league.

Suns probable starting lineup:

PG Goran Dragic

SG Jared Dudley

SF P.J. Tucker

PF Luis Scola

C Marcin Gortat

The trade rumors have been circling over the Phoenix roster since the season started and, since departed, head coach Alvin Gentry quickly realized the Suns summer acquisition he deemed their scorer was besotted with the longest possible jump shot still worth 2 points.

Maybe even before then, Suns sharpshooter and above-average defender, Dudley was circled as a potential trade target for teams seeking competent wing help. Dudley’s been a career 40% 3-point shooter and is signed for three more seasons at a modest $4.25 million per year.

Gortat was rumored to be moving everywhere from Oklahoma City to Portland — even Minnesota — but there he stands with the rebounding-anemic Scola on the Suns’ front line.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Luke Ridnour

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Pek rebounded nicely from a putrid performance in OKC to post 21 and 8 on 10-18 shooting against the Warriors. D-Will bounced back nicely, as well, with 23 and 12 on 9-15. Neither one (nor Dante Cunningham) managed to contain Carl Landry, who continued his utter destruction of the Wolves front line with 19 and 9 on 8-9 shooting off the Warriors bench. The Morris twins, nor Michael Beasley offer nearly the same threat, but Scola has thrown up numbers on the Wolves before.

Williams v. Scola, Pek v. Gortat, and Rubio v. Dragic offer many subplots to Wolves v. Suns.

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Tags: Goran Dragic Minnesota Timberwolves Phoenix Suns Pregame Preview

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