Phoenix Suns ride bench to upset of Minnesota Timberwolves

By Brian Halverson, The Sports Xchange  |  Dec. 16, 2017 at 11:22 PM
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Phoenix Suns overcame 27 turnovers to grind out a hard-fought 108-106 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday night at Target Center.

Phoenix helped itself with another dominating performance from its bench. One game after putting up 55 points on the Toronto Raptors, the Suns' reserves outscored Minnesota's bench 69-20, led by 17 points apiece from Dragan Bender and Troy Daniels, Isaiah Canaan's 15 points, and 12 points and a career-high 19 rebounds from Alex Len.

The Suns led 103-98 with 3:33 to play but consecutive baskets by Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson put Minnesota back on top by one with 1:22 to go.

A pair of TJ Warren free throws restored the Phoenix lead but another Butler basket from Teague made it 106-105 for Minnesota with 50.4 seconds left.

What looked to be a shot-clock violation by Phoenix with 6.1 seconds left was reviewed and it was determined Canaan was fouled in the act of shooting beyond the arc. Canaan made all three free throws to give the Suns a 108-106 lead.

After a pair of inbound plays, Butler's baseline jumper rimmed out at the buzzer.

The Timberwolves season-long fourth-quarter struggles came back to bite them again. Minnesota built double-digit leads in each of the first three quarters but the Suns responded with with big runs to narrow the gaps at each break.

Phoenix turned the ball over a whopping 19 times in the first half alone but trailed only 50-42 at the break. Minnesota scored 19 points off those turnovers and turned the ball over only three times in the half, but the Timberwolves were hindered by shooting a meager 36.5 percent and only 3 of 16 from 3-point range.

Butler pickpocket of Phoenix's Tyler Ulis and put the finishing touch on a 10-0 Minnesota run and a 19-6 first-quarter lead courtesy of the turnover-prone Suns. Phoenix responded, however with a 16-6 run to close the gap to 25-22 after one.

NOTES: Minnesota F Nemanja Bjelica was inactive Saturday, the 12th straight game he has missed with a sprained left midfoot. ... Phoenix G Devin Booker missed his fifth consecutive game because of a left adductor strain suffered Dec. 5 at Toronto. With his 239th career three-pointer Saturday, Minnesota F Andrew Wiggins ties Ryan Gomes for ninth on the Timberwolves' all-time list. ... The Timberwolves conclude their five-game homestand Monday when they host the Portland Trail Blazers. ... Phoenix travels to Dallas on Monday for the second contest of its three-game road trip.

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