Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Wolves fail "character" test, lose 104-95 at Phoenix

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves injury report, Wolves postgame, Wolves news Updated: March 2, 2012 - 3:59 AM

The Wolves led by 10 points in the second quarter, then were outrebounded and outrun on the third night of three consecutive road games by an aging Phoenix team that hadn't played since the All-Star break

Rick Adelman called Thursday's game a "character" game, one in which "there's no excuse at all. We know the situation. How are you going to respond to it."

The Wolves responded by wilting in the desert night after halftime, on a night when 40-year-old Grant Hill scored a season-high 20 points, 15 of them in the second half, and when 38-year-old Steve Nash schooled Ricky Rubio with a 13-point, 17-assist game.

It was his fourth game in the last eight in which he had 15 or more assists.

Here's the game story from Thursday's game built around the Nash-Hill theme with some bits about Kevin Love's return after he missed Wednesday's game in LA and Rubio's two-assist night, his second-fewest this season.

And here's the game's notebook that includes more about Nash and Rubio in their first game against each other.

A couple of things from the game:

* Wes Johnson reached double-digits in scoring for the first time in nearly a month, since he just made it by scoring 10 at New Jersey on Feb. 3.

Thursday, he made as many shots as he missed -- 6 of 12, pretty good for a guy who entered the game shooting 37.9 percent  -- and scored 12, two off his season high of 14 reached against San Antonio way back on Jan. 2.

* Love played 40 minutes once again, one night after he sat out the Lakers game because he still he was too ill to play. He said he played OK, wasn't 100 percent and said his teammates were the ones playing three games in three nights after he didn't play at all Wednesday and by his standards barely played at all by playing 25 minutes Tuesday against the Clippers.

* Martell Webster looks like he's playing himself back in form. He delivered the most determined performance of anyone on Wednesday and Thursday again showed signs he will be the guy Adelman turns to if he ever decides to go away from that two-point guard backcourt and start a legitimately sized 2 guard.

* Just FYI: Two nights after he went 9-10 against the Clippers, rookie Derrick Williams went 2 for 10 against the Suns.

Michael Beasley, who combined with Williams to shoot 80 percent from the field Tuesday, went 1 for 5.

* They played without J.J. Barea, who missed the game with a strained calf sustained Wednesday. He is hopeful he can play Saturday, but Adelman didn't sound as optimistic about "these things" that often are slow to heal.

* Rookie Malcolm Lee returned to D League action Thursday in his second rehab stint.

He started, played 31 minutes, went 5 for 15 from the field, scored 12 points, had nine assists, six turnovers, three steals and three rebounds.

You see highlights of his game -- Sioux Falls vs. Bakersfield -- right here on this link.

I'm also going to experiment with something here tonight. We'll see if it works.

I've sent video into the office tonight from locker-room interviews with Love and Rubio, and hopefully overnight the all-powerful digital editors will insert it into the blog here since a mere mortal such myself doesn't possess the clearance or wizardry to do so.

Let's see what happens, shall we?

That's it from Phoenix on Thursday night.

The Wolves flew after the game to Portland, which is a homecoming for about half the team: Adelman, David Kahn, Martell Webster all have homes there and Love grew up there and his parents still live there.

They won't practice Friday and will finish this four-game road trip -- a prelude to a 7-gamer later this month -- against the Trail Blazers Saturday night.

Go night from Phoenix. Blog at you if not tomorrow, then after Saturday morning shootaround.

 

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