Suns’ shorthanded effort in Wednesday’s win showed why they’re title contenders, and the Timberwolves aren’t – Twin Cities

After a performance in which she was disappointed in her effort and energy, a team took to the stage Wednesday at Target Center determined to right the wrongs of their previous contest and succeeded.

This team was not the Minnesota Timberwolves.

After laying an egg in Philadelphia, Phoenix reverted to its traditional form. The Suns competed and performed at a high level on seemingly every possession, building a 27-point lead en route to a 129-117 win over Wolves. This is how top teams are supposed to react to disappointment.

“I just think that’s a skill and a mindset that all really good teams have. And great teams have the juice and the energy and the execution, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Suns coach Monty Williams said “I told our guys, from the meeting this morning to the pre-game meeting, there was a bad mood back home. We just knew the other night wasn’t us, energy wise, ball movement wise, and it was really good to see our guys playing with that kind of advantage and aggression in the first half.

Minnesota Timberwolves goalie D’Angelo Russell (0) reacts after being called for a foul on Phoenix Suns goalie Cameron Payne (15) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022 in Minneapolis. The Suns won 129-117. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)

Minnesota had an equally bad – probably even worse – performance on Monday, when they were beaten at home by the Knicks. After that game, Wolves spoke of a need to be better. A year ago, such a feeling could mean anything. Through 12 matches, they turn out to be empty words. With the train rolling off the tracks, the Wolves once again landed a misfire.

“The first-quarter urgency just isn’t there. The first-quarter urgency isn’t there, but I actually thought it was for the first half of the first quarter and then we have it in kind of lost,” Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said. “We turned it around a couple of times and things got away from us.”

Yes, Finch touted Minnesota’s emergency for “the first half of the first quarter.” That’s kind of where the coach is at this point, looking for any sign of life from a lifeless team. Yes, there was a belief that the Timberwolves might take a while to gel this season as they incorporated Rudy Gobert.

But they don’t get braked because they work through problems. They overwork themselves every night. That doesn’t happen to big teams. And when it does, these great teams are doing something to change it. On Wednesday, Phoenix did everything possible to secure victory. Guards Devin Booker and Cam Payne were inside, sacrificing their bodies to lock up Rudy Gobert in an effort to get a board for their team.

“That has always been our formula. One of our essentials is the competition. If you don’t compete, you don’t have a chance in this league,” Williams said. “We have the ability to compete at a very high level. We’ve been close to a championship, and our guys understand that to be able to even approach that, you’re not going to get it by tiptoeing, you’re not going to get it by jogging or doing the NBA cool thing. You need to play at the highest level with every possession, or as close as possible. »

Booker certainly set the tone on Wednesday. The All-NBA guard was all over the floor, performing everything with 100% effort. All of the other game-winning games he made weren’t wasted in his 32-point, 10-assist performance. What stood out to Williams about Booker was a defensive play the guard made late, when he sprinted in transition, fended off a lob intended for Gobert and volleyed into the post.

That deflection stemmed any momentum Minnesota generated with another one of its patent-pending false pushes in the fourth quarter. These are plays that Williams noted few players of Booker’s caliber make.

“He’s more than just a scorer,” Williams said. “He has the ability to affect the game with his energy and tenacity.”

It’s not a trait displayed so far this season by Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell or Anthony Edwards, among others. Minnesota’s ‘star’ players simply didn’t rise to the challenge presented to them by the front office when Minnesota knocked out Patrick Beverley and Jarred Vanderbilt – the heart and soul of the Wolves from a year ago – in Gobert’s business in July.

Last season, these two were sparks able to make up for the occasional lack of fire from their teammates. Now, the Minnesota guys’ shortcomings in the spotlight are on full display every night. That’s why Minnesota is 5-7 and why Phoenix — which was without starters Cam Johnson and Chris Paul on Wednesday — improved to 8-3.

“I do anything aggressive,” Booker said. “I try not to lose sight of him. I try not to be an NBA cool guy. I’m not afraid to get dirty.

For now, Wolves have very few players who could say the same.

About Mildred B.

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