Nash, Suns hold off Timberwolves for third straight winNov 27, 2008 - 5:27 AM MINNEAPOLIS (Ticker) -- For the second straight night, the Phoenix Suns were pushed to the limit by one of the NBA's bottom-feeders. And for the second straight night, they survived.
The Suns overcame a late surge by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, putting the game away at the free-throw line en route to a 110-102 triumph - the team's third in a row.
"For us it is always great when we have guys making shots. that means the ball is moving and makes us difficult to defend," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "I think also, on a tough back-to-back, it was important that a lot of guys got to work, got in the action and contributed."
Phoenix escaped a scare from the one-win Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, rallying for a 99-98 victory. Wednesday's win wasn't quite as dramatic, but the T-Wolves did get hot from the perimeter over the final three minutes. Or rather, Rashad McCants did.
The backup guard buried three 3-pointers down the stretch as Minnesota pulled to as close as six on two occasions. But with time working against the T-Wolves, all the Suns had to do to finish them off was connect from the foul line - and Nash and Matt Barnes were happy to oblige.
Minnesota fell behind early and trailed by 16 at the half, largely due to Phoenix shooting 62.5 percent over the first two quarters.
"We have a pretty unselfish team," said Suns guard Raja Bell, who finished with 15 points. "When we are able to get out and run what we want to run, then you are going to have guys who are able to produce."
Al Jefferson buried a pair of free throws with 7:46 left in the third quarter to spark a 17-4 run to cut the Suns' lead to five, but that was as close as the Timberwolves could get.
"We just came out flat in the third quarter and they were able to cut our lead," Suns center Shaquille O'Neal said. "But we just kept our composure and guys came out and made big shots."
Jefferson led the way for Minnesota with 28 points and a season-high 17 rebounds before fouling out with 1:07 left in the game. This was his seventh double-double of the season.
"We had no energy coming into this game and no energy to finish the game," Jefferson said. "We had 21 offensive rebounds and only scored 10 points. We've got to finish those plays off."
The Timberwolves dominated the boards, outrebounding Phoenix, 49-36.
"Obviously when you give somebody 21 offensive rebounds in this league, if they convert a majority of them you can really struggle," Suns coach Terry Porter said. "I thought we did a good job keeping them at bay, so to speak, not allowing them to be a factor."
But the T-Wolves' rebounding advantage was nullified by the Suns' 54 percent shooting (37-of-69) and dominance at the foul line, where they went 32-for-40.
This was the second win in back-to-back road games for the Suns. On the season, they are 3-2 in back-to-backs. O'Neal did not play in Tuesday's ballgame game and finished Wednesday's win with a double-double. He collected 18 points and 10 rebounds, finishing an alley-oop from Barnes with a dunk with 5:02 left in the game to push the Suns' lead to 94-82.
"Obviously that's a plus when he's fresh and able to start games and set the tone," Porter said.
Nash led the way with 20 points and six assists for the Suns, while Amare Stoudemire chipped in with 16 but pulled down a season-low three rebounds.
"It's a great win for us on the road after following up last night's game," Porter said. "Nice to get two wins and go back home and have Thanksgiving."
Both teams will get Thanksgiving off before playing on Friday. Minnesota travels to Oklahoma City while Phoenix will face Miami at home.
MINNESOTA 102 FINAL
Nov 26 10:32 PM
MINNESOTA 72 END, 3RD QTR
Nov 26 9:49 PM
MINNESOTA 43 HALFTIME
Nov 26 9:04 PM
END 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
PHOENIX 28 28
MINNESOTA 23 23 END 1ST QTR
HIGH SCORERS AFTER 1ST QUARTER
PHO - STEVE NASH 8, RAJA BELL 8, AMARE
MIN - AL JEFFERSON 8, RYAN GOMES 5, JASON
Nov 26 8:33 PM
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