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Even though this was Chris Finch’s fourth game coaching the Timberwolves, this was his first home game, and Sunday represented his first chance to see his new digs, like the practice facility and his office.
“Once I found and got in my office I kind of stayed in there,” Finch said before Sunday’s game. ‘I was afraid of getting lost in the locker room here. One of the equipment guys came up to me and asked me if I was OK because I kept going in the same circle.”
It can often feel like this Wolves season is going in a flat circle, one Gersson Rosas tasked Finch with breaking and starting a new timeline for the franchise.
But that’s not going to happen overnight, or even a few nights into Finch’s tenure as the Wolves again lost, this time to Phoenix, 118-99 for their eight straight loss.
Devin Booker, who some fans have in a pipe dream teaming with his buddies Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell in Minnesota, has raised the price this season if he ever does want out of Phoenix. He torched the Wolves for 43 points, including 21 in a third quarter that gave the Suns their first double-digit lead of the night.
Phoenix led 86-76 headed into the fourth after Booker had two impressive drives in which he drew contact and fell into the base of the basket while still making the layup. Phoenix extended its lead from there to 20 early in the fourth and put away the Wolves (7-28), who are now 0-4 under Finch. That stretch capped a 16-1 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters for Phoenix.
Towns was quiet early but got busier as the game went on for 21 points, 10 rebounds while Anthony Edwards had 24 on 8-for-22 shooting. Chris Paul had 11 points and 15 assists for Phoenix.
Towns took his time getting going in the first quarter and shot just one shot during the period while Edwards wasn’t shy about trying to shoot. Edwards shot nine times, hitting four as the Wolves got off to a slow offensive start. They had just 10 points through the first seven minutes until the bench came in to get some scoring going. Jake Layman re-entered the rotation and had five quick ones while Edwards finished the quarter with the bench.Towns didn’t pick up his activity too much in the second quarter as Phoenix’s big men like DeAndre Ayton and Frank Kaminsky bodied Towns in the post and made it difficult for him to get clean passing lanes and clean looks after he caught the ball.
Towns finished the first half with just four shots.
The Suns played down to the Wolves’ level in the first half, matching their turnover total with 10. The Wolves were able to capitalize for 14 points off Phoenix turnovers. The Suns had just two off the Wolves’ 10. Booker’s 20 first-half points helped give Phoenix a 53-48 lead at the half.
Towns came out and was more active in the offensive in the second half.
He ended up scoring nine in the quarter and had a beautiful cross-court pass to set up Edwards for a three. Only problem for the Wolves was Booker was playing at a higher level. He helped Phoenix turn an otherwise close game into a laugher for the last 12 minutes.Booker did his damage despite only hitting one three. He had 12 from the free-throw line and went 14 of 20 on two-point attempts. His big night came after another guard, Bradley Beal had 34 in a win for Washington.
The Wolves have shown the ability to come back from large deficits late, but often Malik Beasley is the catalyst in those moments as he is prone to hit a barrage of threes. There was no comeback Sunday. The Wolves don’t have Beasley, who is serving a 12-game suspension, and they don’t have Russell, and right now that is laid bare, along with a host of other issues the Wolves have defensively, almost every time the Wolves take the floor.