PHOENIX – More than 1,500 miles nearer the Pacific than he was Tuesday, veteran point guard Mo Williams couldn’t find quite the same way to throw the ball into the ocean Friday in Phoenix, and his Timberwolves team in turn couldn’t find a way to win, losing 110-99 at Phoenix.
Three nights earlier, Williams lifted his team to victory — its first after 15 consecutive losses — at Indiana with a singular performance in which he set both a career high and a franchise scoring record with an unforgettable 52-point night.
On Friday, he delivered merely half that, a 26-point game produced even though the Suns tried to keep or get the ball out of his hands.
During Tuesday’s game, Williams told Pacers guard C.J. Watson it was no use even trying to defend him because “I’m shooting it in the Pacific tonight.”
Never mind that he was nearly 2,000 miles … you get the idea.
After Friday’s game, Williams was reminded he was only 400 miles away from that ocean.
He laughed and said: “Oh, man, that was a once-in-a-lifetime game. Trust me, I don’t wake up trying to duplicate that. If you told me I had 26 on 10-for-22 shooting, you’d feel pretty good about it. Fifty-two, that’s a tough task to duplicate.”
The Suns assigned muscular point guard Eric Bledsoe to shadow him and then sent extra defenders toward him at every nearly turn.
Still, Williams managed to score and the Wolves managed to stay close until late in the third quarter, when the Suns used a 10-1 run that changed the game.
By game’s end, the Suns proved just too physical. By game’s end, the Wolves had seen too much of Phoenix guards Goran Dragic (21 points) and Gerald Green (19 points).
Wolves coach Flip Saunders predicted before the game that the Suns would do everything possible to take Williams out of the game after their coaching staff watched footage of Tuesday’s game.
“They did a lot,” Saunders said afterward. “Mo still played pretty well. We had to rely so much on him … it just became more difficult for Mo to carry us by himself.”
Rookie Andrew Wiggins was next in scoring with 17 points, even though he played most of the game ill before Saunders sat him down for the game’s final six minutes.
The Suns’ defensive schemes forced Williams into five turnovers, which matched his assists for the night. He also had three steals.
“Trap, trap me every time,” Williams said, referring to the Suns’ intentions. “They had a game plan. I just had to make plays out of it. That was their game plan: Every time I touched the ball, they trapped. I still tried to be aggressive.”
Williams followed Tuesday’s six three-pointers by making five on Friday. He was well aware there’s no way he’ll probably ever again approach Tuesday performance, of which he has just seen highlights in the three days since.
He said he has been in the shooting “zone” before, but nothing like a night when he scored just eight of those 52 points on free throws and almost all the others on jump shots, not layups.
“Not like that, that was a first,” Williams said. “You’ll be in a zone where you’ll have 35 points, 32 points, 15 in a row. But not like that. … Any time you break a record, that should mean something to you. That’s what we do it for. We do it for championships and for your name in the record books. It definitely means something to me.”