A recent slide saw the Suns fall out of the playoff picture, after putting together a surprising start that had kept them in the West’s top eight all season long.
Every win is critical now as they attempt to climb back into it, and Phoenix managed to win its third straight on Sunday, a 127-20 triumph over the Timberwolves that now has them within a half-game of returning to the postseason race.
Minnesota got off to an incredibly strong start offensively, building a first-half lead of as many as 22 points while putting 73 on the scoreboard in the game’s first 24 minutes.
But the Suns clamped down defensively in the second half, and had cut the lead to just 10 by the time the fourth quarter began. From there, the activity level increased even more, and Phoenix held their opponent to just 5-of-21 shooting in the final period, while forcing six turnovers and outscoring Minnesota 34-17 over the final 12 minutes.
Kevin Love put up video game numbers as usual, finishing with 36 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists. But he was just 2-of-8 in the fourth as the game was slipping away, and committed a key turnover with under a minute to play that hurt his team’s chances.
Markieff Morris led the way for Phoenix off the bench with 25 points and eight rebounds, while the Suns put together a typically balanced attack that saw six players finish in double figures.
The playoffs are within reach for Phoenix, with just two and a half games separating them from the sixth seed in the West. The Suns would prefer not to have to put together miraculous comebacks on the road to get there, but it’s good to know that they can overcome this type of adversity when absolutely necessary.
NEW YORK (AP) James Harden had 22 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in his 12th triple-double of the season and the Houston Rockets easily ended their first losing streak of the season by beating the Brooklyn Nets 137-112 on Sunday night.
Held to 105 points in losses to Minnesota and Memphis, the Rockets bounced back with 104 after three quarters and handed the Nets their 10th straight loss.
Eric Gordon led the Rockets with 24 points and Trevor Ariza added 23. Houston made 21 3-pointers and had five players with at least 16 points.
Houston shot just 40.8 percent during its two losses, well below its 46.8 season average, while being held nearly 10 points below its season scoring average. But the Rockets had no trouble bouncing back against the Nets, who allow an NBA-worst 114.3 per game.
Joel Embiid has fans all around the NBA. Some even came out to see him during the Philadelphia 76ers game against the Washington Wizards on Saturday despite the Cameroonian big man sitting out due to restrictions on playing in back-to-back games.
#BusTheProcess was the hashtag used to get 350 Sixers fans to the game in D.C. thanks to Embiid, coach Brett Brown, and the podcast The Rights to Ricky Sanchez.
Via Twitter and ESPN:
Fun stuff for some dedicated fans, even if they didn’t get to see Embiid play.
Unfortunately for the #BusTheProcess folks, the 76ers wound up losing to the Wizards, 109-93.
Michael Carter-Williams is still shaking the dust off after being inserted into the starting lineup, I guess. At least, that’s about what you can say when you pass the ball off your starting center’s face.
But there’s good news! The Chicago Bulls scored on this play.
Let’s take a look at the whole thing, shall we?
I think the more important question is whether Carter-Williams received a secondary or primary assists on the NBA.com tracking site.
ATLANTA (AP) Kent Bazemore scored 24 points, Mike Dunleavy added 20 and the Atlanta Hawks beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-98 on Sunday.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 33 points and was a tough matchup in the paint for Milwaukee, which dropped 2 1/2 games behind the fourth-place Hawks in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta has won eight of nine. The Bucks have dropped three of five.
Dunleavy, in his second game since arriving in a trade last week with Cleveland, had his first 20-point performance since a first-round playoff game for Chicago on April 30, 2015.
Antetokounmpo has scored at least 30 points in eight games in a breakout season.