NBA: Suns top Timberwolves as both teams set up first round clash

NBA: Suns top Timberwolves as both teams set up first round clash

/ 10:28 AM April 15, 2024

Bradley Beal Suns beat Timberwolves NBA

Phoenix Suns guard Bradley Beal (3) works around Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jaden McDaniels as forward Drew Eubanks (14) defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, April 14, 2024, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Matt Krohn)

MINNEAPOLIS — Bradley Beal scored 36 points on 6-for-6 shooting from 3-point range and the Phoenix Suns beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-106 on Sunday to stay out of the play-in tournament and set up a rematch in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

“It’s a snapshot of what we look like when we can be at our best,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said.

Devin Booker added 23 points and Grayson Allen had 20 points for the Suns (49-33). They built a 22-point lead by the end of the first quarter and never let the deficit drop into single digits after that.

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“We’ve been playing well. Whether it’s our best, we probably still don’t know,” Beal said. “I think we’re definitely hitting our stride at the right time.”

Phoenix finished the regular season on a 10-4 surge and seized the No. 6 seed when New Orleans lost at home to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns held the tiebreaker over the Pelicans. After entering the final day in a three-way tie for the Western Conference lead with Denver and Oklahoma City, Minnesota took the No. 3 seed when the Nuggets and Thunder each won.

The Timberwolves will host Game 1 of the best-of-seven series next weekend. After losing all three games to the Suns this season, they’ve got a lot of work to do next week.

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“We can’t just look at the numbers or box scores and think that we can come out and just run through the series,” Beal said. “It’s going to be a tough grind-it-out game every single night.”

Rudy Gobert had 21 points and seven rebounds and Mike Conley scored 17 points for the Timberwolves, who matched their season worst with 24 turnovers and gave up 13 offensive rebounds to the Suns in this lackluster performance. They fell to 32-4 when shooting 50% or better.

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Beal also took the lead in defending All-Star Anthony Edwards, who didn’t make a shot in the second half and finished with 13 points.

“They were loading up on the gaps. If he was able to punch a gap, there was a third guy right there, too. But he’s got to find ways to be aggressive outside of that,” Wolves coach Chris Finch said. “He’s got to play a little quicker.”

The Timberwolves (56-26) still finished with the second-best record in their 35-year history, behind only the 2003-04 team led by league MVP Kevin Garnett that went 58-24 and lost to the Lakers in the conference finals.

The Suns, who held out sixth-man Eric Gordon because of a migraine headache, served notice that they’ll pose a fierce challenge in the first round for the Wolves, pestering them into poor decisions with the ball and checking the NBA’s best defense with a hot shooting start.

As Finch was hollering at the officials late in the second quarter for an early foul discrepancy the Wolves felt was unfair, Beal taunted Finch as he jogged by the bench. Finch jawed right back, and Edwards quickly came to his coach’s defense by giving Beal a shove. The two guards, who were both given technical fouls, were separated by their respective teams before they did any damage.

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Even before this, the Suns had the Wolves’ attention. Their worst offensive game (87 points scored) and worst defensive game (133 points allowed) of this season both came against the Suns. Then they started this game with 11 turnovers in the first quarter alone that led to 17 points for the Suns.

“They play fast, and they have a lot of guys who make multiple reads and plays,” Conley said. “We’ll have to adjust and see where we go.”

TAGS: NBA, Phoenix Suns

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