MINNEAPOLIS -- Karl-Anthony Towns pulled up from about 30 feet with about 10 seconds to play Saturday with the game on the line.
The big man hit six 3-pointers on the evening — but needed seven.
Towns’ potentially game-tying triple clanked off the back iron and Phoenix’s Devin Booker grabbed the rebound, was fouled and hit two free-throws to all but seal the Suns’ 100-98 victory at Target Center to push Minnesota back to .500 on the season.
Towns finished with 31 points and 17 rebounds, but couldn’t carry Minnesota to a victory it probably should’ve had. Yes, Minnesota was short-handed Saturday — Jake Layman and Shabazz Napier are out with injuries, Robert Covington missed the game due to personal reasons, Josh Okogie missed the contest with knee soreness and Treveon Graham was only available on an emergency basis thanks to a left forearm contusion.
But Phoenix (8-7), too, missed key players. The Suns were without starters Aaron Baynes and Ricky Rubio.
Both teams looked short-handed Saturday. The offense on both ends was ugly. Minnesota shot just 42 percent from the floor, while Phoenix shot 34 percent. Both teams hit just 29 percent of their 3-point attempts.
“They showed how badly they wanted to win tonight.
But Phoenix got things done at the free-throw line. The Suns hit 24 of 26 attempts from the charity stripe. Booker went 11 for 11 at the line, a big part of his 35-point performance. Phoenix’s wings got the better of Minnesota’s for much of the day. Kelly Oubre had 25 points and 10 rebounds.
Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points, but it was on an inefficient 21 shots. Towns’ primary help came in the form of Keita Bates-Diop. The little used wing scored 22 points on 18 shots. Jordan Bell grabbed nine rebounds in just 17 minutes.
But, in general, Minnesota’s entire offense was rather anemic against Phoenix’s zone defense. That might be something Minnesota (8-8) sees more of from opponents this season as it continues to struggle to shoot from deep.