MINNEAPOLIS — For three quarters, the Minnesota Timberwolves did a good job of containing Phoenix Suns guard Gerald Green.
Green finally exploded in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, and he scored 15 of his 21 points in the final frame, leading the Suns to a 113-111 win at Target Center on Wednesday.
Green’s outburst helped Phoenix erase a 13-point second-half deficit. The former Timberwolf, buried three 3-pointers in the first three minutes of the fourth, helping turn a seven-point deficit into a two-point lead.
“It was huge because we weren’t playing very well,” Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said of Green’s fourth-quarter heroics. “We got down by 13 and then we got the Gerald we all know and love, coming down and pulling up for threes. You just let him go sometimes, and that was huge to get us back in the game.”
Minnesota (5-29) had one final chance for a win at the buzzer, but rookie forward Andrew Wiggins’ open 3-point shot missed long off the rim.
“I thought it was going in,” Wiggins said. “I was confident. I thought it was right on target.”
The loss was Minnesota’s 13th straight, even though the Timberwolves led after the first, second and third quarters. Their 48-45 lead at the half was their first advantage at the break in nearly a month (Dec. 10).
The Suns, who won 102-96 in Milwaukee on Tuesday, captured both ends of back-to-back games for the third time this season. Phoenix (22-16) has 10 wins in its past 12 games overall.
“We started off slow. Two games in a row, we started off slow,” Suns guard Isaiah Thomas said. “We have to do a better job with that, especially in back-to-backs. We gave the (other) team life, and they played well. Luckily, we closed it out and got the win.”
Phoenix scored 42 points in the fourth quarter, led by Green and Thomas, who added nine points in the final frame. The Suns shot 15-for-24 (62.5 percent) from the floor in the fourth quarter after shooting just 43 percent over the first three periods.
Five Suns finished in double figures, led by guard Goran Dragic, who had 25 points. Thomas and Eric Bledsoe each finished with 17.
After falling behind 12-7 in the early moments of the game, the Wolves finished the first quarter on an 18-8 run. Guard Mo Williams had eight points, including two 3-pointers, and Wiggins had seven points to lead Minnesota.
Phoenix trailed by just three at the half despite shooting 36 percent from the field and 13 percent from beyond the arc.
“We felt early that we didn’t do enough taking the ball to the basket, getting a better shot,” Hornacek said. “We are a 3-point shooting team, but when you see they aren’t going, and it’s not like they were going in and out, they weren’t close to going in.”
Minnesota started the second half on a 12-2 run, opening up its largest lead of the night at 13 points. Forward Thaddeus Young’s turnaround 5-footer in the paint forced Phoenix to call a timeout.
The Suns responded out of the break, scoring eight in a row to narrow the Wolves’ lead to five, a lead Minnesota extended to seven by the end of the third.
“Good effort. I thought we were much better at times defensively,” Wolves coach Flip Saunders said. “They turned it up, of course, in the fourth quarter, scored on 20 of 27 possessions. Their guards put a lot of pressure on you, and I thought overall, we had some growth with some of our guys.”
Wiggins led the Wolves with 25 points, tying a franchise rookie record by scoring 20 points or more in a fifth consecutive game.
Williams had 23 points and 11 assists while making his second consecutive start at the point. He sustained a sprained ankle on the game’s final play, and he is considered day-to-day.
NOTES: The Suns improved to 3-7 on the second half of back-to-back games. … Phoenix F Markieff Morris received a technical foul in the third quarter, his eighth of the season, the second-most in the NBA. … The Timberwolves waived F Jeff Adrien. He averaged 3.5 points and 4.5 rebounds in 17 games this season. … Timberwolves coach Flip Saunders returned to the sidelines after missing Monday’s game due to illness.
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