MINNEAPOLIS – Shannon Brown had 17 points and seven rebounds and the Phoenix Suns' reserves outscored Minnesota's 66-27 in a 114-90 victory over the Timberwolves on Monday night.
Markieff Morris led the backups with 21 points and Steve Nash had 14 points and five assists for the Suns, who have won five of their last six games and 11 of 16 to surge back into the playoff picture. They started the day one game behind Denver for eighth in the West.
Kevin Love had 25 points and 13 rebounds for the Timberwolves, who have lost six in a row. They have lost 22 straight games in April dating back to 2009.
J.J. Barea had 16 points, but the Wolves' massive defensive problems continued with the Suns shooting 57 percent.
Sebastian Telfair had 14 points and seven assists and Michael Redd scored 13 points for the Suns, the sixth straight game he's scored in double figures. That's an encouraging sign for Phoenix (30-27), which improved to a season-high three games over .500.
The Suns' best days appeared to be behind them at the start of the season when they were 12-19 in their first 31 games. They've been an entirely different team since the All-Star break, with Nash's supporting cast knocking down the open shots that he has been creating for years. They are 16-7 since the break, second only to San Antonio in the West.
Nash deserves plenty of the credit, as usual. He's orchestrating an offense that did not receive any help at the trade deadline and has been without veteran Grant Hill since March 30 because of a knee injury.
"I just marvel at him," Wolves coach Rick Adelman said. "He's actually kept this team going. He's actually willed them to stay in this race and you've got to give him credit."
Brown has filled in beautifully since stepping into the starting lineup. He entered the night averaging 17.6 points in his eight games as a starter, including 24 points in a win over the Lakers on Saturday night.
He got out quickly on Monday night, scoring 11 points and grabbing seven rebounds in the first quarter. Channing Frye and Marcin Gortat both were in foul trouble early in the first half, but Morris and Michael Redd came off the bench to fill it up in their place. Morris scored 12 points in the first half and Redd had eight to keep the Suns humming on offense.
Minnesota trimmed a 15-point lead to five points early in the third quarter, but the Suns responded in a heartbeat.
Frye, Nash and Brown all hit 3s in a 21-4 run for a 77-55 lead that was far too much for the short-handed Wolves to overcome.
Minnesota was in the playoff hunt in early March until a rash of injuries derailed everything. Ricky Rubio went down with a torn ACL, Nikola Pekovic missed significant time with an ankle injury, Michael Beasley was out with a bad toe, Luke Ridnour with a sprained right ankle and Barea struggled with a pulled groin.
Rubio returned to Target Center on Monday night for the first time since he had surgery on March 9. He planned to speak to reporters Tuesday afternoon.
NOTES: The Suns set a franchise record for fewest turnovers with just three against the Lakers. They doubled that in the first six minutes on Monday night. ... Suns coach Alvin Gentry got technical foul from Eddie F. Rush in the second quarter while pleading for a 3-second call on Pekovic. Rush did call the 3 seconds, but not before he saw Gentry hopping up and down on the sideline. ... Beasley received a technical foul in the fourth quarter for kicking the ball.