PHOENIX -- Wesley Johnson enjoyed playing against his old team Tuesday night. Actually, he just enjoys playing against anyone these days.
Johnson, traded from Minnesota to Phoenix last summer but used sparingly this season, had one of his best games as a Sun with 14 points and nine rebounds. He assisted on the final two Phoenix baskets of overtime as the Suns held on to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 84-83 Tuesday night at U.S. Airways Center.
Minnesota had two chances to win the game, but Ricky Rubio airballed a jumper in the final seconds of regulation with the game tied and an Alexey Shved layup attempt rolled off the rim with three seconds left in overtime to give Phoenix the win.
Johnson played in just his 26th game this season. But he has replaced veteran Shannon Brown in the playing rotation in the last week and played a season-high 35 minutes Tuesday. He took advantage of Minnesota's three-guard lineup -- J.J. Barea, Luke Ridnour and Rubio to take a bigger role offensively.
"I remember (during practices in Minnesota) just going straight to the block when he guarded me," said Johnson, enjoying a seven-inch height advantage on Barea. "I just felt good being out there playing, it just happened to be them I was playing against. I think our bench was the difference."
Derrick Williams 21 points 11 rebounds for Minnesota and Nikola Pekovic had 18 points and 11 rebounds, but it wasn't enough as the Timberwolves missed a chance to record back-to-back wins over Phoenix for the first time in eight years. They also lost forward Andrei Kirilenko to a left calf strain late in the first quarter.
"We started off slow again. We can't keep coming back and losing by one or two points," Williams said. "We're down by (13) with a few minutes left but we never gave up. We did a good job of fighting back but we always have to do that."
Marcin Gortat and Markeiff Morris also had 14 points for Phoenix, who had six players in double figures.
The Suns followed up a 31-point second quarter with a 30-point second half -- giving back a 13-point lead with 9:35 left. Minnesota went small, used a zone defense and had Phoenix settling for outside jumper and whittled away at the deficit.
Phoenix made only four baskets the rest of the way. But one was a Gortat layup off a Goran Dragic feed with 13.6 seconds left, which tied the game at 77-77 and proved to force overtime when Rubio missed.
It was one of seven straight shots Minnesota missed in the final minutes of regulation and first three minutes of overtime, and that gave the Suns just enough daylight to win.
"We made it tough on ourselves, but we'll take it," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. "We still have a lot to work on. We have to learn how to close quarters. They posed a lot of problems when they went with those guards. They just ran pick and rolls in every single direction."
Somebody had to win the game. Both in last place in their divisions, the Timberwolves had lost 18 of 22 and 24 of 32 dating back to Dec. 17, while the Suns had dropped 11 of 14 and 24 of 32 beginning Dec. 22. And both teams showed why they have struggled so mightily during an evening of sluggish basketball.
The Timberwolves scored a season-low 33 points in the first half -- six shy of the franchise record -- and missed 29 of 44 shots as the Suns built their lead to as many as 18.
"We lost the game the second quarter," Minnesota coach Rick Adelman said. "We didn't play, and they opened the lead. We have to play 48 minutes. We can't have letdowns. We didn't play the way we are capable of in the first half and it cost us."
NOTES: Rubio came into the game with 23 steals in his previous five games. "He does such a nice job of anticipating," Adelman said. "He's always in the right spot, recognizes what the other team is doing, and he always has good hands. Even last year, when he got hurt, he was in the top five in steals."... Heading into the game, Rubio (14) and Dragic (12) ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the league in steals since the All-Star break. ... Adelman coached in his 1,681st NBA game, second only to George Karl (1,862) among active coaches. His counterpart Tuesday, Hunter, notched game No. 17 ... Dragic entered the game with at least 10 points, 10 assists and two steals in four straight games. The last Suns player to accomplish that feat? Jason Kidd in 1998-99.