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Wolves look to rebound defensively vs. Suns

Nov 9, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Jaylen Nowell (4) shoots the ball while Phoenix Suns guard Damion Lee (10) defends during the second quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves hope to locate their defense on Friday when they open a three-game homestand against the injury-riddled Phoenix Suns in Minneapolis.

The Timberwolves saw a four-game winning streak go by the boards against another short-handed team in the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons had their way with Minnesota on the offensive end Wednesday, much to the chagrin of Timberwolves coach Chris Finch.

“There was zero defensive impact all night,” Finch said following the 135-118 setback. “We didn’t do anything to make them uncomfortable. They put 135 on the board, had at least 31 points in every quarter, and shot 60 percent from the floor and (53.1) percent on 3s.”

The Suns also gave the scoreboard operator a bit of a workout in the first two games of the season series. Phoenix posted a 116-107 win over Minnesota on Nov. 1 and a 129-117 victory eight days later.

Timberwolves star Rudy Gobert collected 25 points and 11 rebounds in the game on Nov. 9. Although he had 16 and 14, respectively, on Wednesday, Gobert was left searching for answers.

“After that first stretch, we have a team that’s just straight up playing harder than the other,” Gobert said, per the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “They’re communicating harder, running harder and they’re more physical than us. Why is that? That’s what we have to figure out.”

Minnesota may have another thing to figure out, and that’s the health of Anthony Edwards. The former top overall pick initially was ruled out for the game in the third quarter with hip soreness before he returned in the fourth.

“I played the very game right after (sustaining the injury),” Edwards said, per the Star Tribune. “I guess I just got to play every game from here on out no matter how it feels. I’ll figure it out.”

Phoenix is struggling to figure things out after the club fell for the 10th time in 12 outings following a 126-97 setback against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.

Torrey Craig scored 16 points and Josh Okogie added 14 off the bench for the Suns, who played without Deandre Ayton (left ankle sprain), Landry Shamet (right hip soreness), Chris Paul (sore right hip), Cameron Payne (right foot sprain), Devin Booker (left groin strain) and Cam Johnson (torn right meniscus).

Despite the injuries, Phoenix coach Monty Williams said he feels confident that the team can record positive results on its four-game road trip. The Suns opened the trek with a 125-113 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday before falling flat against Denver.

“Every time we’ve put a game plan together, I feel like we can win the game,” Williams said. “… We saw it (Tuesday) night. We played against a championship squad and we beat them on their home floor, so that should tell you anything can happen.

“So, I feel confident about this trip. I know we have guys out. Do we have to play at a high, high level and be really efficient? Absolutely, but we can, and that’s what I believe we’ll do.”

–Field Level Media