Timberwolves have had Suns' number - East Valley Tribune: Sports

Timberwolves have had Suns' number

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Posted: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 5:37 am | Updated: 9:40 am, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Maybe Robert Sarver isn't really the new owner of the Suns, after all. Maybe it's actually the Minnesota Timberwolves who are in the process of taking over.

The Suns, the NBA's top team at 26-4, might be able to beat just about anybody these days. But they're 0-1 vs. the Timberwolves, having lost to them last month at home.

No surprise about that, either. The T-Wolves may have become the Suns' greatest nemesis, at least now that Shaquille O'Neal has moved East. They've beaten the Suns 13 of the past 18 games, including five straight.

This is a far cry from the Timberwolves' early years; the Suns beat them the first 25 times the teams played. Even after the rise of Kevin Garnett, the Suns played them tough thanks to the tremendous defensive play of Clifford Robinson on Garnett.

But Robinson departed in the summer of 2001, and the Suns have found the Timberwolves a tremendous challenge ever since.

In particular, "The past couple of years they've been a lot better than us," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said.

That may be different today. And yet the Suns also believe they are being targeted by other teams as a prized opponent to knock off.

"We're kind of the team to beat," said Amare Stoudemire.

Said Joe Johnson, "It's starting to get where when we play a team, we get their best game."

In terms of individual matchups, Shawn Marion is expected to start out guarding superstar Kevin Garnett.

"I'll front him and try to make it hard for him to catch the ball," Marion said.

"If you can't catch the ball, you can't score."

D'Antoni said he also expects backup center Steven Hunter to play extensively tonight.

Hunter played Garnett well in last month's loss and is coming off a fine game Sunday vs. Portland, D'Antoni said.

"We're going to try him," he said.

As usual, the Suns coach said he won't try to "save anything" tonight for Wednesday night's game at Houston, even though he acknowledged the club will have to make the "long trip" to Houston late tonight.

"If you start trying to 'save' things, you can mess up your flow."

That means the Suns are playing, as always, all out to win tonight, then will worry about the Rockets on Wednesday.

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