Timberwolves hand short-handed Suns 6th loss in 7 games, 111-109
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Kevin Martin scored 28 points and Andrew Wiggins added 20 to lead the Minnesota Timberwolves over the stumbling Phoenix Suns 111-109 on Friday night.
Ricky Rubio had 10 points, 14 assists and eight rebounds for the Wolves (12-42), who were playing their final home game before the highly anticipated return of franchise icon Kevin Garnett.
Markieff Morris scored 31 points for the Suns, who have lost six of seven to fall behind Oklahoma City in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot. The Suns dressed only 10 players after trading Goran Dragic, Isaiah Thomas and three others on Thursday.
Gorgui Dieng had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and Wiggins scored a tough bucket in traffic for a 110-107 lead with 17.6 seconds left to help seal the win.
Morris and twin brother Marcus Morris combined for 16 points in the first 8:30 of the fourth for the Suns to help turn a 14-point, second-quarter deficit into a 103-102 lead with 3 minutes to go.
But Nikola Pekovic, who struggled all night against Alex Len's defense, hit two key layups and Wiggins hung in the air and scored through contact from Markieff Morris to help the Wolves squeak one out.
The Suns were short-handed after a seismic roster overhaul on Thursday that sent Goran Dragic and Zoran Dragic to Miami, Thomas to Boston and Tyler Ennis and Miles Plumlee to Milwaukee. The Suns are getting Brandon Knight from Milwaukee and Marcus Thornton from Boston, but they weren't expected to join the team until Saturday when Phoenix plays in Chicago.
It was a startlingly large makeover for a team that sat in the eighth seed in the powerful Western Conference, but GM Ryan McDonough's hand was forced by Goran Dragic's insistence he planned to sign elsewhere in the offseason. The Suns did well to pry Knight, a 23-year-old playing at an All-Star level this season for the surprising Bucks, to fill Goran Dragic's shoes, but he didn't arrive in time to help Phoenix on Friday night.
Free of having to share the ball with Goran Dragic and Thomas, Eric Bledsoe got off to a slow start. He went 0 for 4 in the first half and was thoroughly outplayed by Rubio, who helped the Wolves surge to a 14-point lead in the second quarter.
Bledsoe scored 10 in the third but was scoreless in the fourth and finished with 12 points.
It was a robust crowd that turned out to watch a struggling Wolves team, but many scrambled to get tickets after Minnesota acquired Garnett in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets for Thaddeus Young on Thursday. The 38-year-old Garnett waived his no-trade clause to return to his original team, but he will not make his debut until Wednesday at home against Washington.
Suns: Len had 11 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high six blocks. Marcus Morris scored 14 for the Suns. ... C Earl Barron was signed to a 10-day contract to help the frontcourt depth after Plumlee's departure.
Timberwolves: Anthony Bennett started at PF in place of Young, but left in the second quarter with a bruise on his lower right leg and did not return. ... A line more than 200 long filed into Target Center before the game for a season-ticket promotion after the Garnett trade.
Suns: Visit Chicago on Saturday.
Timberwolves: Visit Houston on Monday.