Few teams have had success slowing down the Phoenix Suns lately as the NBA’s highest-scoring team has won six straight and 20 of 25 to bolster its position in the Western Conference.
Unsurprisingly, the Minnesota Timberwolves have had more trouble than most.
The Suns put up the highest single-game point total in the NBA this season against Minnesota earlier this month, and they can send the tumbling Timberwolves to a franchise record-tying 16th consecutive defeat in the opener of a five-game road trip Sunday night.
While the Suns (46-26) have averaged 123.3 points during the league’s longest active win streak, they haven’t come close to matching their output against Minnesota on March 16, when they won 152-114.
“They were playing a lot harder than we were,” Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said. “With a team that is in sync the way that they’re in, they understand how to move the basketball, they know where their options and their outlet passes are. They’re just too good.”
Minnesota has had problems defensively all season, allowing more points per game (107.6) than every team but Golden State.
Phoenix, averaging 110.4 points, cruised to another blowout victory Friday night, 132-96 over New York.
“I think we’ve really found a nice approach,” point guard Steve Nash(notes) said. “We’ve come out and really started games well the last month or so and we’ve been pretty consistent with that effort. We have confidence in ourselves with our shots.”
Coach Alvin Gentry was able to get his starters plenty of rest against the Knicks, something that has also happened in the last two meetings with the Timberwolves (14-59). The Suns won 120-95 at Minnesota on Nov. 27 and are looking for their first season sweep of the Wolves since 1994-95.
Phoenix, which has already matched its win total from last season with 10 games remaining, should have the opportunity for a few more victories on this trip. The Suns’ next four opponents have combined for 44 losses in 52 games in March.
That could help Phoenix, 17-17 on the road, in a crowded West race. The Suns could slip as far as eighth, but they are 1 1/2 games behind second-place Denver, and former Suns coach Mike D’Antoni likes their chances.
“These guys are playing as well as anybody in the league,” the current Knicks coach said Friday.
The Timberwolves are arguably playing worse than anyone else. They’ve won once in their last 22 games and are on their second 15-game slide of the season.
They haven’t lost 16 straight since the longest skid in club history from Feb. 29-March 29, 1992.
“It’s not fun losing 15 games in a row, but you have to stay professional and do something about it,” forward Al Jefferson(notes) told the NBA’s official Web site. “You have to stay positive and good things will happen.”
Jefferson is averaging 19.3 points and shooting 55.6 percent from the field in his last 10 games.
Minnesota’s opponents are averaging 112.7 points and shooting 48.8 percent during the 15-game slide.