Feb. 19, 2013; Portland, OR, USA; Phoenix Suns small forward Wesley Johnson (2) hits a three point shot during the second quarter of the game against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports

Preview: Minnesota Timberwolves (23-43) @ Phoenix Suns (23-46)

The half game lead the Wolves had on Sacramento is now a half game the other way and Phoenix, by virtue of having lost 3 more games than the Wolves have yet to, is a game and a half behind Minnesota in the standings. Fear not, the Suns are 3-7 over their last 10 and trotted out this starting 5 Wednesday against Washington…

Suns probable starting lineup:

PG Goran Dragic

SG P.J. Tucker

SF Wesley Johnson

PF Markieff Morris

C Jermaine O’Neal

Marcin Gortat is out for the season with a Lisfranc sprain. Which a google search tells me is also known as a midfoot sprain. Anyway, he is done for the season and old man O’Neal needed to be helped to the locker room with a strained Kirilenko calf. So Luis Scola may make an appearance at center and put the Wolves through the low-post torture chamber he did last time he faced the Pek-less Wolves.

Dragic is averaging 15 points and 9 assists on 45% shooting from the field. No word on his mental state. His situation makes Rubio’s resemble an embarrassment of riches.

Wesley freaking Johnson has been getting mad play as the Suns starting small forward. And good on him — he’s averaged 6, 4, 10 and 16 minutes a month until March’s 30 a game. Wes is still averaging 8 times as many 3-point attempts as free throws, shooting 43% from the field and 27% from 3 — but he is out there, smiling. Doing his thing.

Possibly related, Head Coach Lindsay Hunter questioned his “young guys” attitude, effort and overall energy in their loss to the Wizards.

Wolves probable starting lineup:

PG Ricky Rubio

SG Chase Budinger

SF Andrei Kirilenko

PF Derrick Williams

C Nikola Pekovic

Last night, the Wolves brought the effort and questionable decision making that makes their games close, endearing and almost winnable. 17 offensive rebounds. 1-19 3-point shooting. Pek, Dante and Stiemer were the only players to shoot 50% from the field. When you shoot 41% from the field, it should count against your turnovers (which were 12), because shooting that poorly is almost as bad as stepping out of bounds.

Chase Budinger returned, scored 9 points on 7 shots and Mickael Gelabale took a DNP-CD. I understand Luke Ridnour will probably remain the starting shooting guard, possibly until the end of the season, if only because a J.J. Barea-Ridnour 2nd line would be too painful. But wait, that backcourt has been used plenty enough — get Bud in the starting lineup.

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Tags: Minnesota Timberwolves Phoenix Suns Pregame Preview

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