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Suns skip play-in by toppling T-wolves 125-106 to set up 1st-round rematch

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Bradley Beal scored 36 points on 6-for-6 shooting from 3-point range and the Phoenix Suns beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 125-106 on Sunday to stay out of the play-in tournament and set up a rematch in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

Devin Booker added 23 points and Grayson Allen had 20 points for the Suns (49-33). They built a 22-point lead by the end of the first quarter and never let the deficit drop into single digits after that.

Phoenix finished the regular season on a 10-4 surge and seized the No. 6 seed when New Orleans lost. After entering the final day in a three-way tie for the Western Conference lead with Denver and Oklahoma City, Minnesota took the No. 3 seed when the Nuggets and Thunder each won.

The Wolves will host Game 1 of the best-of-seven series next weekend. After losing all three games to the Suns this season, they've got a lot of work to do next week.

Rudy Gobert had 21 points and seven rebounds and Mike Conley scored 17 points for the Wolves, who matched their season worst with 24 turnovers and gave up 13 offensive rebounds to the Suns in this lackluster performance. They fell to 32-4 when shooting 50% or better.

The Suns, who held out sixth-man Eric Gordon because of a migraine headache, served notice that they'll pose a fierce challenge in the first round for the Wolves, pestering them into poor decisions with the ball and checking the NBA's best defense with a hot shooting start.

As coach Chris Finch was hollering at the officials late in the second quarter for an early foul discrepancy the Wolves felt was unfair, Beal taunted Finch as he jogged by the bench. Finch jawed right back, and Edwards quickly came to his coach's defense by giving Beal a shove. The two guards, who were both given technical fouls, were separated by their respective teams before they did any damage.

Finch got a technical in the first quarter for arguing about a charging foul on Towns for pivoting elbow-first into Durant in the post.

Even before this, the Suns had the Wolves' attention. Their worst offensive game (87 points scored) and worst defensive game (133 points allowed) of this season both came against the Suns.

The Timberwolves (56-26) still finished with the second-best record in their 35-year history, behind only the 2003-04 team led by league MVP Kevin Garnett that went 58-24 and lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals.

The Timberwolves declared a sellout for all 41 home games, a feat not recorded since their inaugural season at Target Center in 1990-91. The franchise’s first season was played at the Metrodome.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA

Dave Campbell, The Associated Press