On Monday night, the Nets were defeated by the Minnesota Timberwolves by a final score of 107-96.
The Skinny: Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic, who dominated the Nets for 27 points and 11 rebounds when these teams met last season, controlled the paint with 10 first quarter points. But he was forced to the bench with two early fouls, which allowed Brook Lopez to score nine straight Nets’ points to give Brooklyn the first quarter lead. The Nets’ second unit once again showed great energy and played well defensively in the second quarter, led by MarShon Brooks and Andray Blatche. After sitting for most of the second quarter, Deron Williams re-entered the game and dominated the pace of play to close out the first half, which ended on a Mirza Teletovic three-pointer on his first career NBA shot. Brooklyn opened a 22-point lead to the start the third quarter as Williams remained on fire and the team shot lights out from the outside. However, a lack of intensity from the Nets to close out the third allowed the Timberwolves to cut the lead in half and eventually take the lead midway through the fourth quarter. Minnesota rallied late with an 11-0 run to seal its improbable comeback victory.
High Scorers: Despite foul trouble, Pekovic led all scorers with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting. Joe Johnson shot much better in this game, with 19 points on 8-of-16 from the field.
Key Stats: After the Nets took their 22-point lead with 9:36 to go in third quarter, the Timberwolves went on an extended 58-26 run to close the game, including holding Brooklyn to just 10 fourth quarter points. The Nets shot just 36.1 percent in the second half after shooting 59.5 percent in the first half. Minnesota also outscored the Nets 62-38 in the paint.
Who Was Hot: D-Will recorded his first double-double of the season with 18 points and dished out 13 assists. C.J. Watson again looked good off the bench with 10 points and four assists. Andrei Kirilenko has a double-double for Minnesota with 16 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Chase Budinger made a few clutch buckets during the Timberwolves comeback and finished with 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
Who Was Not: Minnesota backup center Greg Stiemsma entered the game after Pekovic committed two early fouls. But he wound up picking up two fouls in just 2:27 in the first quarter. Brook Lopez managed just 5-of-14 shooting from the field and threw up a few bricks. The Nets’ defense shut down completely as it let the Timberwolves come all the way back late in the game.
Fun Fact: Dating back to March 3, 2009, the Nets have now lost six of their last seven games to the Timberwolves.
Jim MancariEven without Gerald Wallace, the Nets defense looked pretty good early. The team shot well from the field and appeared to be cruising to an easy victory, especially after scoring 60 or more first half points for the second straight game to start the season.
But then the wheels completely fell off. Without Kevin Love or Ricky Rubio, the Timberwolves managed to control the paint and make big shots down the stretch.
This game will be a learning experience for the new-look Nets. They had this one in the bag and just crumbled in the fourth quarter.
There were some positives as D-Will looked great and the team shot well from three-point range: 13-of-23 (57 percent).
Brooklyn (1-1) will look to rebound as it hits the road for the first time this season and will have a tough test ahead of them in facing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and the reigning NBA champion Miami Heat. The 7:30 p.m. game at American Airlines Arena will be televised on the YES Network.
Jim Mancari is a Contributor to SNYNets.com. Follow him on Twitter @JMMancari.