Wolves look to double up on Suns in quick rematch
Less than 48 hours after Derrick Rose's 18-foot jumper with 0.9 seconds gave the Minnesota Timberwolves a victory over the Phoenix Suns, the teams do it all over again Tuesday night in the Valley of the Sun.
The Timberwolves' 116-114 win will be fresh in the minds of the Suns, who were up by four with under three minutes left. Minnesota's defense tightened as the Suns went 0 of 4 from the field and Devin Booker committed two turnovers to set the stage for Rose's heroics.
"It was all up to my teammates," Rose told reporters afterward. "And my coaches, too, for giving me that confidence, putting the ball in my hands, and just believing in me. That's what it's all about."
The Suns played without rookie center Deandre Ayton on Sunday because of a sprained left ankle. As of Monday, he was considered doubtful to play in the rematch. The team was missing another post player on Sunday in Richaun Holmes (right foot sprain), who was considered questionable for Tuesday.
Sunday's game was really about the Suns' inability to stop Rose in the second half and Karl-Anthony Towns in the first. Rose scored 29 of his 31 points in the final two periods after Towns carried the Timberwolves in the first half, when he scored 28 of his 30 points. He added 12 rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Rose's performance left Towns awestruck.
"Watching a living legend in Derrick Rose hit a shot like that, it's great," Towns said. "It's a very emotional game for us, and wanted to win this badly."
For the Suns, Jamaal Crawford returned after missing five games, helping the Suns lead by five points heading into the fourth quarter. But the Timberwolves had already started to wear down the short-handed Suns and went on a 15-1 run.
Phoenix refused to fold, going on a 13-3 run that only to set up Rose and his buzzer-beater.
"I think we played well enough to deserve to win this game," Suns coach Igor Kokoskov said. "We just didn't find a way to close out the game."
T.J. Warren led the way with 21 points. Dragan Bender, starting in place of Ayton, recorded a double-double with 12 points and 10 boards. Booker scored 18 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out six assists.
But his two late turnovers cost the Suns. The night before at the Charlotte Hornets, Booker scored 32 points, recorded 11 assists and didn't turn the ball over.
"They capitalized on a lot of our mistakes," Warren said in the Arizona Republic.
"At the end of the games, we've got to be smarter and value the ball more and convert. Missed a lot of free throws (made 22 of 32 as a team), a lot of transition buckets. It's part of the game. Find a way to win. We didn't do that tonight."
The Timberwolves did not have Tyus Jones available for Sunday's game because of an ankle injury, and the team said his status will be evaluated at game time. Robert Covington will miss Tuesday's game as he recovers from an ankle injury; he is not expected to be able to play until next week.
Phoenix did beat the visiting Timberwolves last month, 107-99. Booker scored 28 points and Ayton added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
--Field Level Media
Updated January 21, 2019