Timberwolves blown out by Suns 125-106 in season finale, will play Phoenix again in first round of NBA playoffs

Chris Hine, Star Tribune on

Published in Basketball

MINNEAPOLIS — The worst-case scenario played out for the Timberwolves on Sunday.

Entering a day when they could have moved up to the No. 1 seed with some help, or guaranteed at least the No. 2 seed with a victory, the Wolves fell to the Suns 125-106 to end the regular season, dropping to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

To make matters worse, their first-round matchup will be the Suns, who avoided the play-in tournament with their victory and with New Orleans getting blown out at home 124-108 by the Lakers.

This Suns team has owned the Wolves — Phoenix has led by double digits in the second half the entirety of each of the teams' three matchups this season.

This Wolves team finishes 56-26, the second-best regular-season record in team history behind the 2003-04 team. But a season that had such highs ended with a loud thud as the Wolves failed to secure at least the No. 2 seed, which goes to Denver, with Oklahoma City claiming the top seed. Should the Wolves move past the first round, they now would not have home-court advantage if they were to play the defending champion Nuggets in the second round.

The Wolves committed 24 turnovers on Sunday, 19 in a miserable first half. Bradley Beal, who got in an exchange of words with Wolves coach Chris Finch during the first half, cooked the home team for 36 points. Devin Booker had 23 while Kevin Durant had 15. Grayson Allen had 20 points on 8-for-11.

Rudy Gobert led the Wolves with 21 points and seven rebounds while Mike Conley had 17. Anthony Edwards had 13 points and five turnovers while Karl-Anthony Towns struggled in his second game back from meniscus surgery, finishing with 10 points.

Just like the other two matchups with Phoenix this season, the Wolves came out slow from the start. Phoenix hit its first eight shots while the Wolves turned the ball over early and often.

The Wolves had an eye-popping 19 turnovers in the first half and the Suns opened up a 22-point lead. The Suns scored 26 points off those 19 turnovers.


The only reason the Wolves weren't down more was because they shot 66% from the field. With a late burst in the second quarter, the Wolves cut Phoenix's lead to 66-53 by halftime.

Of course, this being the regular-season finale, there was a little drama involved after last season featured Gobert attempting to punch teammate Kyle Anderson and Jaden McDaniels breaking his hand while punching a wall.

In the second quarter, Finch and Beal were exchanging words during a timeout. Edwards got between them and shoved Beal, causing benches to momentarily empty during the timeout and drawing double technicals for Edwards and Beal.

Four Phoenix starters were in double figures at the half, with Beal leading them with 18.

The Phoenix lead stayed in double digits through most of the third as the Wolves pulled within 81-71 on a Towns jumper.

The Wolves were within 89-78 after three after committing just three third-quarter turnovers. But Phoenix pulled away with the game in the fourth, and Finch emptied his bench early.


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