With Bradley Beal off night, the Suns can't pull off a D-Wolves sweep

Phoenix – Finally, the Phoenix Suns made significant changes to both their power levels and program. The Minnesota Timberwolves went 0-3 only to set up Game 4 at the center.

It was too little and too late, but the question was whether it would be enough to at least stay alive.

Devin Booker and Kevin Durant combined for 82 points, though. Phoenix fell 122-116, considering where they started in the Big Three's first year after a season of easily titled failure.

When counted too much, the phoenix withered. Down 113-111 with three minutes to play, a beautiful offensive possession saw Durant post touch and the ball swing through each player to the other side of the court, but Bradley Beal's drive bounced off the opposite corner and cross court. Durant intercepted.

At the other end, D-Wolves star Anthony Edwards slugged it out, got past Beal and tomahawked over the Help defense to put Minnesota up by four.

Beal was fouled immediately after finishing with nine points on 4-of-13 shooting, and six turnovers. He and Jusup Nurkic are the third-highest scorers for Phoenix.

“Anytime you get into foul trouble, I think it disrupts the rhythm of your whole game,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said.

The Suns at least gave themselves a chance for the first time in the abbreviated series. They turned their defensive physicality to 10 on the dial to hold the T-Wolves to 38% shooting in the first half. They had to learn that they avoided matching Minnesota's size in exchange for court-spacing and speed.

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They got the expected help from Booker (49 points) and Durant (33). It was Booker's eighth playoff game with 40 or more points as he tied the game for the fourth time in his playoff career.

But for Minnesota, Karl-Anthony Towns and Edwards did everything to meet their opponents with 28 and 40 points, respectively.

Eric Gordon was first mate on the Phoenix bench – to center Jusuf Nurkic.

Josh Okogie was the second baseman to create a small-ball, 5-out sequence, and he finished the score easily on a rim-roll after setting a high screen as he entered. It was a reward for playing well in what seemed like short minutes at the end of Game 3.

Gordon was heavily used, but the eighth man for the night was Nasir Little. He started the second quarter and was promptly scored by Rudy Gobert and then Karl-Anthony Towns.

Although Phoenix was hammered on the offensive glass, Frank Vogel's team felt for the first time in the series that it had at least dictated the terms and set the tone for a game.

“We tried to look at something different. There's a proven formula to try to expose or land Rudy Gobert,” Vogel said, admitting he's not a fan of going so small.

That momentum led to a 10-7 second chance point deficit and a 61-56 lead at halftime.

Despite allowing 16 offensive rebounds at the end of the game, the Suns lost the second-chance point battle by two, 17-15.

Even when center Jusuf Nurkic resurfaced in the second quarter, the Suns had something of a rhythm. Twice pushed up court, Nurkic caught the ball high on the left wing in Kevin Durant's corner, and twice Nurkic beat Durant, who made a triple-handoff and pocket catch for an easy dunk with the D-Wolves knot. Return to security to assist.

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Phoenix also limited its turnovers, 11 for the game.

To cap the momentum, Phoenix scored 23 points off nine Minnesota turnovers.

But despite the good changes, Booker and Durant attended the elimination game, and Minnesota snuck up. The Suns never led by more than six points.

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