The Phoenix Suns will continue a four-game road swing on Wednesday, traveling to Minneapolis to face a sputtering Minnesota Timberwolves bunch.
Minnesota fell to 1-2 on its current four-game homestand with a 120-107 loss on Monday to the New York Knicks. The Timberwolves surrendered 76 first-half points and trailed by as many as 27 points in a game more lopsided than the final score indicated.
“We played Houston (on Saturday), we beat Houston, everybody was happy,” Anthony Edwards said, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “But we’ve got Phoenix next. I want to be able to go home at night and be happy. … My nephew’s in town. I want to be happy around my nephew, so I want to have a great game the next game.”
Minnesota’s displeasure stems from a skid dropping four of its last five games, including the last meeting with Phoenix. The Timberwolves committed 18 total turnovers and shot just 42.5 percent from the floor in the 116-107 decision on Nov. 1.
Those offensive woes against the Suns reflect a larger issue for Minnesota early into the season, with the team shooting just 32.5 percent from 3-point range and averaging about 16 turnovers per game.
Both rank near the bottom of the NBA in the season’s early going.
Phoenix comes into Wednesday’s matchup off its own offensively anemic performance, scoring a season-low 88 points in a 12-point loss at Philadelphia.
Devin Booker scored 28 points, but no other Suns player mustered more than Mikal Bridges’ 15. The team shot a collective 6 of 19 from beyond the arc, 32 of 73 from the floor overall.
More worrisome for Phoenix in Monday’s loss was the departure of veteran point guard Chris Paul with heel soreness. Paul scored two points in just over 13 minutes of play.
Paul said after the game that the heel was not a long-term concern. Still, the 12-time All-Star and 18-year veteran is central to the Phoenix with more than nine assists dished per game, thus his status will be a primary subplot as the Suns’ road trip continues.
Phoenix will be without Cam Johnson as the team announced on Sunday he was undergoing surgery to repair torn meniscus in his right knee. Johnson torched Minnesota for 29 points in the previous meeting but exited the subsequent game, a loss to Portland, due to the injury.
“Obviously it’s a tough thing to happen,” Suns coach Monty Williams said. “He’s trained so hard to get ready for this season. (Johnson is) certainly important to our team.
“We’re just hoping for a speedy recovery,” he added.
Booker told the Arizona Republic that Johnson’s absence makes for “a different dynamic” and the Suns will “continue to figure that out.”
Booker’s 27.1 points per game has set the pace for the Suns, with Deandre Ayton adding 15.3 and Bridges 14.9. Ayton and Bridges are shooting 57 and 58.9 respectively percent from the floor.
Of Minnesota’s five double-figure point-per-game scorers — Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, Rudy Gobert and Jaylen Nowell — only Gobert is shooting at a pace approaching the efficiency of which Ayton and Bridges have provided Phoenix.
However, the 58.9-percent shooting, 12.6 point and 13.9 rebounds-per-game Gobert missed the Timberwolves’ last two games due to NBA COVID-19 health and safety protocol. His status for Wednesday was undetermined as of Tuesday.
–Field Level Media