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Timberwolves-Suns Preview

AP - Sports

After having three-game winning streaks snapped by potent offensive teams, the Phoenix Suns and Minnesota Timberwolves square off looking to get back on track.

That might be tougher for Minnesota to do even if Kevin Love remains red-hot.

Love seemed to admit after the Timberwolves' last game that they needed more firepower, and it's unclear if their other two top scorers will return Tuesday night in Phoenix.

Even with Kevin Martin and Nikola Pekovic combining for 37 points and 17 rebounds in these teams' only meeting - and Minnesota playing at home - the Suns won 104-103 on Jan. 8 by scoring the game's final seven points. Gerald Green hit the go-ahead jumper with 3.9 seconds left, Goran Dragic led Phoenix with 26 points and Love had one of his worst games with 15 points on 4-of-20 shooting.

His recent performances have been nothing like that one, as he's set a franchise record with five consecutive 30-point games. Love reached that mark for the ninth time in 11 games and posted a 10th straight double-double Sunday, but Minnesota blew an 18-point lead in a 108-97 loss to a Portland team which averages a league-leading 107.8 points.

"A night like tonight hurts a lot," said Love, who had 31 points and 10 rebounds. "It's a reminder to us that we need all our guys back. We need our depth."

Pekovic has missed the last 12 games with an ankle injury, and Martin has sat out six straight due to a fractured thumb. That duo averages a combined 37.0 points.

The Timberwolves (27-29) were hopeful both would return sometime during the current five-game road trip, and this game against Phoenix marks the halfway point.

The Suns (33-22) also remain without one of their top scorers, though Eric Bledsoe (knee surgery) could be back next month. They have been fine lately without him, winning 11 of 16, and have scored 109.4 per game since Jan. 15 to rank second in the league behind the Clippers.

Phoenix, though, fell at home to the NBA's No. 3 scoring team Sunday, 115-112 to Houston despite Dragic's career-high 35 points. It was the first time in six games the Suns didn't have a halftime lead, but they did erase a 37-19 second-quarter deficit and led in the final minute.

"We cannot afford to start the games like that," Dragic said. "We were down 18 points and it takes a lot of energy to come back. And after that your tank is empty in the fourth quarter and because of that we lost the game."

Green added 23 points and is averaging 23.3 in the last six contests. His career average of 9.2 points was partially achieved during 29 games with Minnesota in 2007-08, one of his seven teams in seven seasons.

"My role this season has been to keep shooting and stay aggressive. I try to make plays when I can," Green said. "... As long as you do what (coach Jeff Hornacek) wants you to do, which is execute the offense and play defense the way he wants it played, he will let you go out there and play your game."

Phoenix let the Rockets shoot 52.6 percent after holding its three opponents during the win streak to 37.5. The Suns are 14-0 when keeping teams below 41.7 percent.

The Timberwolves shot 39.4 percent Sunday after hitting 50.6 during its three-game win streak. They're 9-0 when shooting better than 49.0 percent.

Minnesota's only win in its last five road games came against last-place Utah.

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