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Suns send message after losing Game 1

PHOENIX – The Phoenix Suns held a slim lead after the first quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves – an opening 12 minutes that provided a taste of the physicality and defense that was sure to follow.

In the early stages of the second quarter, Minnesota took the lead and never looked back.

The Suns now trail 1-0 in the series after their 120-95 loss at Target Center, a game that quickly got out of hand for Phoenix near the end of the third quarter after they cut their deficit to four points.

Game 1 had almost everything in Minnesota’s favor. Guys like Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert anchored the Wolves’ efforts as they dominated the glass and saw their bench outpace Phoenix’s reserves in every conceivable way.

For the Suns, Kevin Durant paced the team with more than 30 points, though most efforts outside of Royce O’Neale’s 14 points off the bench were less than inspiring.

After going 3-0 in the regular season series – all wins coming by double digits for Phoenix – the Suns, for lack of a better term, were punched in the mouth in Game 1.

They are confident that they will respond.

“There are things we can do better, we showed that throughout the regular season. We didn’t do a good enough job tonight and we’ll make those adjustments and get ready for Game 2,” Suns coach Frank Vogel said after the defeat. Phoenix has now scored fewer than 100 points in two of their last five games.

The Suns trailed by as many as 27 and allowed Minnesota to record 52 rebounds, 13 of which were on the offensive side.

“Obviously we’re upset about the loss, but we’ll motivate ourselves and know we can play better. I think that’s probably the most frustrating thing,” Bradley Beal said after the loss.

“We know we can play better, we know we can be better, but we’re playing again. It’s the first of four. We’re excited about our opportunity.”

“It’s going to be a good series. It’s going to be a good series. We expected them to come out and compete and that’s what they’re doing. Now we have to respond.”

Devin Booker also threw in his own two cents after the game:

“We all just have to adjust to the playoffs, the physicality. They’re ultra-physical against me and I got three early fouls and went to the bench. I tried to find a rhythm from there,” he said.

“That’s why it’s a series. It’s an emotional roller coaster for a lot of people. I think the team that can stay healthy – not get too high, not too low and just stick to the task at hand (will win).”

Game 2 is Tuesday, April 23 at 4:30 PM Arizona time.