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Booker, Warren spark Suns to win vs. Timberwolves
PHOENIX — Two Phoenix Suns players haven’t scored 35 points in the same game for almost a decade. And they needed everything Devin Booker and TJ Warren could give them to end a five game losing streak.
Booker and Warren each scored 35 and keyed a 14-0 run down the stretch to help the Suns surprise the Minnesota Timberwolves 118-110 on Saturday night.
“We’ve sat here (after losses) and talked about having someone else step up when Book doesn’t have a good game,” Phoenix interim coach Jay Triano said. “When they’re both rolling, it’s going to be a good night for us.”
Warren and Booker had 22 of 33 fourth-quarter points for the Suns (5-9), who won for the first time in four tries on a season-long, six-game homestand. The two combined to make 28 of 44 shots as Phoenix shot 53.5 percent while holding the Timberwolves to 40.6 percent and 4-for-20 from 3-point range.
The last time two Phoenix players had 35 or more in the same game was when Steve Nash (36) and Amare Stoudemire (41) managed it on March 31, 2008, during the glory days of the “Seven Seconds or Less” Suns.
“(Warren) brings it every night. He played incredible tonight and I had to keep up with him,” said Booker, who also primarily held Jimmy Butler to a 5-for-17 shooting night. “After the couple of losses we’ve had, we’ve been looking for answers and our answer tonight was effort.
“A year, two years (ago), we wouldn’t have won this game with the young team we have. But now we’ve been in this situation ... winning time, that’s what we called it at Kentucky.”
The game featured dueling runs all night — but Phoenix had the last one.
The Suns trailed 103-97 after Jeff Teague capped a 9-0 Minnesota run with a 3-pointer with 4:46 left. But Booker had seven points and Warren four over the next 3:55, and when Booker fed Marquese Chriss for a 3-pointer in the corner, the Suns had a 111-103 lead and control of the game.
“We had a four-point lead with four minutes left and we got the ball. We’ve got to execute and we didn’t execute,” Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau said. “We got the lead and we gave it away. We took some tough shots and we just couldn’t stop them.”
Andrew Wiggins scored 27 points for the Timberwolves (7-5), who missed a chance to start the season with eight wins in their first 12 games for the just the third time in team history.
Butler had 25 but 14 of them came from the foul line. Karl-Anthony Towns (17 points, 12 rebounds) and Taj Gibson (16 points, 11 rebounds) both added double-doubles.
Booker took only 10 shots and matched a season low with nine points in a 128-112 loss to Orlando. Towns, his old college teammate at Kentucky, expected a different player Saturday.
“We knew he was going to come in aggressive after last night,” Towns said. “He’s good. He was great. That’s what he does.”
Minnesota missed 15 of 24 shots in the first quarter but nine made free throws and a late 11-2 run gave them a 28-19 lead. Wiggins had eight points and Butler seven for Minnesota.
Booker had 12 points in the second quarter and his third 3-pointer of the quarter pulled Phoenix to within 57-56 with 38.6 seconds left. But he fouled Butler on a 3-point shot with less than a second left.
Butler, who was a perfect 10-for-10 from the line in the first half, gave Minnesota a 60-56 lead at the break.
The Suns jumped out with a 15-5 run on back-to-back Warren baskets, giving them their biggest lead at 83-75 with 4:06 left in the third. But Minnesota regrouped and closed the quarter on a 12-2 spurt to take an 88-85 lead to the fourth. Butler had 10 points in the quarter.
NOTES: Suns F Jared Dudley will miss one to two weeks after suffering a bone bruise during the loss to the Orlando Magic on Friday. ... C Tyson Chandler returned after missing two games to back spasms and G Tyler Ulis made his first start of the season. ... The game featured former Kentucky teammates and the two highest scoring players of the 2015 Draft — Minnesota C Karl Anthony Towns (3,815 points) and Phoenix G Devin Booker (3,086). ... Minnesota has only started better than 8-4 once in franchise history, going 10-2 to begin the 2001-02 season.