The Minnesota Timberwolves are trying to find some consistency and are enduring a stretch of three losses in four games on the heels of a three-game winning streak. The Timberwolves will try to pull to 2-1 on a four-game homestand and turn up the pressure on the defensive end when they host the Phoenix Suns on Sunday.
Minnesota is last in the league in opponent’s field-goal percentage, allowing foes to go off at 48.5 percent, and watched the Miami Heat bury 19 3-pointers in a 109-97 setback on Friday. “We haven’t guarded anybody all year long,” swingman Jimmy Butler told reporters. “Different mistakes, same mistakes, we have to eventually figure it out and want to play defense. Stop trying to outscore the opposing team. That starts with me and goes all the way down the line.” The Suns are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA as well and are surrendering a league-high 115.8 points. Phoenix could not find the offense to keep pace with its porous defense on Friday and suffered a 115-91 setback to the New Orleans Pelicans at home.
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, FSN North (Minnesota), FSN Arizona (Phoenix)
ABOUT THE SUNS (7-13): Phoenix is beginning a six-game road trip in Minnesota and could use a struggling defense like the Timberwolves’ to get budding star Devin Booker going again. The 21-year-old is 17-of-52 from the floor in the last three games and went 0-of-5 from beyond the arc while committing six turnovers in Friday’s setback. “(Booker) is going to see physicality, he’s going to see more than one body, he’s going to see everything,” Suns interim coach Jay Triano told reporters. “He’s going to have to figure it out. We’re going to have to figure it out. His teammates are going to have to figure it out.”
ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (11-8): Minnesota is well aware of its own defensive shortcomings, and Butler was quick to agree with the disappointment registered by some fans during Friday’s loss. “We’ve got to start guarding somebody,” he said. “It’s getting ridiculous, and it’s getting sad. I heard some boos in there. Rightfully so. If we don’t want to go out and play hard, do what we’re supposed to do, they’re not going to come support us.” The Timberwolves allowed the Suns to shoot 53.5 percent from the floor in a 118-110 loss at Phoenix on Nov. 11.
1. Suns PG Tyler Ulis scored a season-high 17 points on Friday.
2. Minnesota PG Jeff Teague (Achilles) was a late scratch Friday and is questionable for Sunday.
3. Phoenix’s win on Nov. 11 snapped a four-game losing streak in the series.
PREDICTION: Timberwolves 121, Suns 109