Suns edge Wolves in OT
PHOENIX — Marcin Gortat hit big shots at the end of regulation and overtime, helping the Phoenix Suns end a three-game losing streak with an 84-83 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night.
Gortat hit a runner with 13 seconds left in regulation to send the game to overtime and scored on a hard drive with 45 seconds left in the extra period.
Derrick Williams followed with a 3-pointer that cut Phoenix’s lead to 84-83 and Nikola Pekovic blocked Wesley Johnson’s runner at the other end to give the Timberwolves a shot. Alexey Shved got a good look, but his layup rolled off the rim.
Gortat, Johnson and Markieff Morris had 14 points apiece. Jermaine O’Neal added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Suns, who ended a four-game home losing streak.
Williams had 21 points and 12 rebounds, Pekovic finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and J.J. Barea had 16 points for Minnesota, which rallied from a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime.
The Timberwolves and Suns each won coming out of the All-Star break, a nice little ray of hope.
Since then, both teams had settled back into their losing ways, combining for five straight losses.
It’s no surprise the way things have gone this season.
Minnesota has been plagued by injuries — most notably Kevin Love’s broken hand — and entered Tuesday’s game last in the Northwest Division, 19½ games behind Oklahoma City after blowing an early 16-point lead in a loss to Golden State on Sunday.
Phoenix cost coach Alvin Gentry his job on Jan. 22 and hasn’t been any better under interim coach Lindsey Hunter. With Sunday’s 10-point loss to San Antonio, the Suns had lost 11 of 16 under Hunter, falling 21½ games behind the Pacific Division-leading Los Angeles Clippers.
They played like last-place teams at the start, too.
Minnesota had five turnovers and missed three of four shots in the first 3 minutes. Phoenix opened 2 for 10 and had four turnovers.
It got only marginally better the rest of the quarter as they traded turnovers and missed shots.
How bad was it? The Suns matched a season low in the first quarter and still led 16-15.
Phoenix at least got better. Minnesota didn’t, at least not until later.
The Suns’ reserves opened the second quarter with a 10-0 run as the Timberwolves missed 10 straight shots and threw a pass that ended up in the stands next to their bench.
Even after making a few shots in the final 90 seconds, Minnesota was 13 for 44 — 1 for 10 from 3-point range — and had six shots blocked. Williams had 13 of its 33 points on 6-of-12 shooting.
Once the third quarter started, the Suns started throwing the ball away and missing shots.
Minnesota opened the second half with a 10-4 run and cut Phoenix’s lead to 55-51 on a hard drive by Williams with 2 minutes left. The Suns made 5 of 20 shots and had seven turnovers in an 11-point third quarter.
The Suns turned it on again to open the fourth quarter, going up 68-55 on a 3-pointer by Markieff Morris. Minnesota fought back with a 16-3 run, tying it at 71-all on Barea’s 3-pointer from the corner with 4 1-2 minutes left, setting up the close finish.
Notes: Minnesota F Andrei Kirilenko limped off in the first quarter with a left calf strain and didn’t return. He missed five games with a strained right quadriceps before playing the past four games. ... The Suns have won 11 of 13 in the series. ... Minnesota’s previous season low for the first half was 37 against Memphis on Feb. 10. ... Phoenix hadn’t won at home since Jan. 30 against the Lakers.