MINNEAPOLIS -- One night after he played the familiar role of instigator, Minnesota Timberwolves guard J.J. Barea turned igniter in Saturday's 105-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns at Target Center.
In Friday's loss at Utah, Barea goaded Jazz forward Derrick Favors into a flagrant foul and his irritating play inspired the always vocal Jazz crowd to boo him at every turn.
On Saturday, he followed Friday's season-high 23 points by scoring 16 points off the bench, including nine in a decisive fourth quarter.
Barea scored all nine points in a 13-7 Minnesota run that opened the fourth quarter and turned a 77-73 lead after three quarters into a double-digit bulge that Phoenix never seriously challenged again.
Wolves point guard Ricky Rubio scored a career-high 24 points and added 10 assists and five steals on a night when the Wolves recorded 17 steals and forced 28 Suns turnovers.
The Wolves' victory was their 30th of the season.
They've never won that many before without a guy named Kevin Garnett on their team. They never reached 30 wins before he arrived in 1995 and didn't do so until Saturday since he was traded away to Boston in 2007.
The Suns now have lost 10 of their last 11 games and 13 of their last 15.
The Suns ended a 10-game losing streak by winning at Dallas on Wednesday. Until Saturday, they had lost 14 of their last 16 games and still couldn't catch Charlotte and Orlando in the race for the league's worst record and the best chance in May's NBA draft lottery.
The Suns led 13-5 and 24-14 in the game's first eight minutes and still were ahead by eight points early in the second quarter before the Wolves got back even by late in the first half.
They tied the game at 50 after Luke Ridnour stole a Luis Scola pass and fed Andrei Kirilenko for a layup with 43.8 seconds left.
The Suns took a 53-50 lead into halftime when Markieff Morris responded to the Wolves' comeback push by making a 3-pointer with 29 seconds left before intermission.
Former Wolves forward Wes Johnson returned to Target Center for the second time since he was traded to Phoenix last summer to clear salary-cap space so Minnesota could sign free agent Kirilenko to a two-year, $20 million contract.
The guy who seemingly couldn't make a shot for the Wolves last season made five of six and scored 11 points in the first quarter alone on his way to a 7-for-13 shooting night for 15 points.
NOTES: Wolves forward Kevin Love met with reporters at Target Center on Saturday, three days after he underwent arthroscopic surgery in New York to remove scar tissue from his left knee. He expects to begin his summer workout program in about four weeks. Love played just 18 games this season after he broke his right shooting hand not once, but twice. "It won't hold me back at all," he said. "I'll get to have a big off-season hopefully. I go into every off-season thinking it'll be the biggest one of my life. This one's no different." ... Wolves center Nikola Pekovic missed his second game in as many nights because of a thigh bruise. This time, forward Dante Cunningham started at center against a small Suns lineup. ... Wolves owner Glen Taylor presented coach Rick Adelman a framed net from Adelman's 1000th NBA victory, reached a week ago against Detroit. Adelman was honored in a pregame ceremony that included a scoreboard video tribute. ... Suns forward Michael Beasley did not make the trip to Minneapolis so he could be with his newborn daughter, who was born on Tuesday. Beasley played two seasons for the Wolves before he signed a three-year contract with Phoenix last summer as a free agent. Suns center Marcin Gortat (foot sprain) and forward/center Channing Frye (enlarged heart) remain out.