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Jon Krawczynski / Associated Press, Published April 13 2013

Rubio helps Timberwolves top Suns

MINNEAPOLIS – Ricky Rubio has made his mark in the NBA with his behind-the-back passes and quick hands on defense.

The Phoenix Suns saw both of those traits on Saturday night, to no one’s surprise. What they didn’t expect was for Rubio to become Minnesota’s primary scoring threat.

Rubio had a career-high 24 points to go with 10 assists and five steals, and J.J. Barea scored 16 points to lead the Timberwolves to a 105-93 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

After going through a horrible 6-for-41 stretch over four games recently, Rubio was undaunted. With leading scorers Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Love out with injuries, Rubio attempted a career-high 18 field goals. He hit six of his first nine shots and finished 8 for 18.

“It’s a lot,” Rubio said. “Without Pek, without Kevin, there are shots to take and I’m going to take them.”

Derrick Williams added 15 points and six boards for the Wolves, who gave coach Rick Adelman victory No. 1,001. It’s also the first time the Wolves (30-50) have won at least 30 games in a season without Kevin Garnett on the roster.

“Yeah but we lost 50, too,” Rubio said. “That’s a lot. Fifty in one season. It’s not that exciting. It’s more than I thought. Of course we’re happy because we’re improving, but it’s not enough.”

Markieff Morris had 20 points and nine rebounds and Jared Dudley scored 16 for the Suns, who turned the ball over 28 times. The Suns have lost 15 of their last 17 and already are assured of having their worst record since their inaugural season in 1968-69.

“We turned the ball over entirely too much,” Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. “It wasn’t complicated turnovers, it was simple passes that we tried to be too fancy or tried to thread the needle too thin. You can’t beat anybody turning the ball over 28 times.”

Andrei Kirilenko had 14 points and Dante Cunningham had 13 points and eight rebounds in place of Pekovic, who missed his second straight game with a bruised left calf.

Wes Johnson scored 15 points and Luis Scola added 14 points and nine rebounds for Phoenix. But Scola committed a career-high eight turnovers, and the Wolves scored 33 points off Phoenix mistakes to pull away.

Phoenix 28 25 20 20 – 93

Minnesota 22 28 27 28 – 105

PHOENIX (93): Tucker 4-5 0-0 9, Mark.Morris 8-11 1-2 20, Scola 6-13 2-2 14, Dragic 4-11 2-4 10, W.Johnson 7-13 0-0 15, Dudley 5-11 5-6 16, Haddadi 0-1 0-0 0, Marc.Morris 1-3 0-0 3, Marshall 2-5 0-0 6. Totals 37-73 10-14 93.

MINNESOTA (105): Kirilenko 6-9 2-3 14, Williams 7-12 0-0 15, Cunningham 6-12 1-2 13, Rubio 8-18 7-7 24, Ridnour 3-8 5-5 12, Budinger 0-4 2-2 2, Shved 1-4 0-0 3, Barea 7-9 0-0 16, Stiemsma 3-7 0-0 6. Totals 41-83 17-19 105.

3-Point Goals: Phoenix 9-20 (Mark.Morris 3-4, Marshall 2-2, Tucker 1-1, Dudley 1-2, Marc.Morris 1-3, W.Johnson 1-4, Scola 0-1, Dragic 0-3), Minnesota 6-15 (Barea 2-3, Ridnour 1-1, Williams 1-2, Shved 1-2, Rubio 1-3, Kirilenko 0-2, Budinger 0-2). Fouled Out: None. Rebounds: Phoenix 45 (Mark.Morris, Scola 9), Minnesota 39 (Cunningham 8). Assists: Phoenix 28 (Dragic 14), Minnesota 19 (Rubio 10). Total Fouls: Phoenix 22, Minnesota 14. Technicals: Mark.Morris. A: 16,701 (19,356).