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Report: Timberwolves Prowling in the House of the Rising Suns

Gerald Green gets high. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

Gerald Green gets high. (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas, USA TODAY Sports)

The Timberwolves take on the playoff-bound Phoenix Suns  tonight in Phoenix. Tip is at 8 P.M. CST. You can see it on FSN or League pass and, as always, hear it on WCCO 830.

I have to drive down to Washington, D.C., later this afternoon, so this will be brief.

A few quick notes, below the fold.

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Suns vs. Wolves (The Rising Sun Edition)

Former Timberwolves wing Gerald Green: Still Dunking

Gerald Green: Still Getting High

UPDATE (4:19 P.M. CST): It’s still unclear whether Suns guard Eric Bledsoe will play tonight, according to ESPN.

The Wolves play Phoenix tonight at 8:30 P.M. CST. You can see it on ESPN or listen on 830 WCCO. The 8:30 P.M. tip is an odd time for a Wolves home game. (Eds. Note: Earlier this season, the NBA amended its schedule so tonight’s game would start later than initially planned and be shown on national television, presumably because the NBA and ESPN were concerned that no one would want to watch the Kobe-less Lakers against the Houston Rockets–the game that was initially scheduled to be on ESPN at 8:30 P.M. tonight.) 

But tonight’s tilt promises to be an extremely interesting game for fans–perhaps more so than Stern and Silver, LLP, expected when the game was pushed onto the national TV slate–as the Wolves will be taking on one of the League’s most enigmatic teams with which the Wolves are competing for a Western Conference playoff spot. (Eds. Note: The Suns are the rare NBA squad that’s enigmatic in a good way, basically the opposite of the way in which the Brooklyn Nets are enigmatic.) 

The Suns are a breath of fresh air. They’re good. Really good, actually. They’re 20-13 thus far, good for a winning percentage of .606. The Suns have the 7th-best record right now in a stacked Western Conference. They trail the much-hyped Houston Rockets by just one game for the 6th spot in the West. The Suns’ record shines when compared to the Wolves’ 17-17 record.  If the playoffs started today, the Phoenix Suns would be in the playoffs. The Minnesota Timberwolves–currently 10th in the West–would not.

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Wolves Beat Suns, Beas is Schwag

Wes Johnson Jerseys: Worthless? Or just worth less than they used to be?

Wes Johnson Jerseys: Worthless? Or just worth less than they used to be?

Okay, folks, the Wolves are winners again. Hallelujah, rejoice. They beat the Phoenix Suns 111-107 last night at home.

They did it without Golden Boy Ricky Rubio, about whom I’d written a slurptastic game preview, in which I suggested Rubio and Love were/are/will be the keys to the Wolves winning anything significant. Kirilenko, Shved, and Pek are nice bit pieces – nicer than we’ve had since 2004-05 – but they’re dispensible in different ways. Rubio and Love aren’t, unless we’d flip one of them for someone even better. Pau Gasol probably doesn’t qualify, for those of you still fantasizing about a Love-Gasol trade. If you’re reading, that includes you, Kevin Love.)

A few thoughts from last night’s game:

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Intel Report: Timberwolves vs Suns

Mike Beasley, suited up like a closer.

Mike Beasley, suited up like a closer.

The Wolves have lost four of their last five games. They are 3-2 since Ricky Rubio returned from injury. (Ricky sat out against Miami, because it was the second game of a back-to-back.) Rubio’s role is going to get bigger, and soon. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: give the kid more minutes.

He’s the key to our winning. Not JJ, not Ridnour, not Mal Lee, not Brandon Roy. Certainly not Josh Howard, Will Conroy, Troy Hudson, Sam Cassell, or Pooh Richardson. Not Derrick Williams, and not Dante Cunningham.

Ricky. Just Ricky. Throw K-Love in there too.

That’s what the Wolves basically have: two stars. One is still having his minutes limited (he’s now cleared to play 24 minutes, up from 18), basically nullifying his ability to make an impact by doing what he does – help the team win in lots of non-box score ways while on the floor. The other is out of shape and acting pouty and playing poorly.

Neither star is playing well. The Wolves are losing. End of story.

No need to overthink it. It’s great when guys like AK47 and Pek can carry the team to wins, and we love seeing Shved outperform expectations, but that’s not going to be a blueprint for winning in the playoffs. Which is what we want to do.

So what can be done?

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