Brooklyn Nets 96, Minnesota Timberwolves 107: Welp

Nikola Pekovic

Nikola Pekovic and the Minnesota Timberwolves dropped’a’bomb’on’Brooklyn. (AP/Frank Franklin II)

Note: a site traffic overload left us without the ability to do our live grades. We’re truly sorry for that issue. Hopefully the recap gives you an idea of how they’d grade.

I hope you’re not reading this. I really, truly hope that you’re paying attention to something far more important, whether that’s today’s presidential election, or your family’s recovery from Hurricane Sandy, or putting your effort towards comprehending quantum theory, or omphaloskepsis. I hope recalling the final eighteen minutes of this Brooklyn Nets debacle doesn’t singe your irises the way it assuredly did or would have live.

Remember that first half? That glorious first half? Outside of Nikola Pekovic, whose testosterone strikes fear testosterone, and even including him, the Nets had every bit of control over this game. Brook Lopez continued his streak of getting to the line at absurd rates. Deron Williams slashed and dished like a Top Chef, and the team elicited a specific, encouraging synergy. Even Mirza Teletovic, who spent his first 7.3 seconds in an official Brooklyn Nets game at the end of that first half, drained a 3 within six seconds of his first herringbone step. All looked well.

The Nets appeared to be lapping the Wolves on their trek towards victory lane. Up fifteen after 24 minutes after their half of offensive wizardry, the Nets then opened the third quarter in full-out destruction mode, tossing threes into a nylon ocean. After opening up a 22-point gulf with 22 minutes on the clock, all Brooklyn needed was to maintain less than one point per minute against, and they’d leave Barclays Center with their second victory in two attempts.

Welp.

In the final 21:24, the Nets were outscored 58-25. The Timberwolf tortoise lulled the Brooklyn hare into a false sense of security, before spending the final eighteen minutes snapping the rabbit in half. There’s more than enough blame to go around for what went west. The team scored just ten points to Minnesota’s 32 and shot 4-18 in the final quarter, as the team shied away from spreading the floor and played low-sum hero ball when no hero was required.

The fearsome foursome bench mob defined ineffective. Backup center and preseason revelation Andray Blatche elicited memories of Johan Petro and Josh Boone, failing to rotate throughout the second half and standing on hand while a seventeen-point lead evaporated to zero. Reggie Evans, fan (okay, my) favorite, grabbed eleven fewer rebounds in the same amount of playing time as game one. At some point, Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, and Joe Johnson all fired shots that would normally get them fired. Each turned the game from team sport to their sport, throwing the ball towards the rim hoping something wonderful would result. It did in the first two and a half quarters, when finding team points was the goal. So much for that.

I jokingly tweeted “Where Newark at?” after the game, since so much of the final 18 minutes reminded me of the Travis Outlaw-Stephen Graham-Johan Petro days of Jersey yore. But Brooklyn ain’t Newark, and last night was proof of that; neither team in Newark these past two seasons would’ve had much resolve to gain a 22-point lead worth losing. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, but on a team chock-full of firsts, it’s a(nother) start.

The Nets are still without Gerald Wallace. I say this not to promote that as an excuse for tonight’s collapse — though the game obviously would’ve ended with a significant difference, the Timberwolves were short their two best players — but as a note conjoined with the fact that they contend with the NBA champion Miami Heat on Wednesday evening, and will likely attempt to contain LeBron James without their crashing, sparking, smashing small forward. After their Manhattan rivals disposed of Miami in spectacular fashion, I can only imagine that their likely loss Wednesday night will continue to stoke those “little brother” flames.

As Williams said after the game, every team has two or three games like this. 47 wins just means 35 losses. They happen. This game happened. As their minority owner, the one who spent the night in Ohio battling for bigger things, would say, on to the next one. If only the next one weren’t a matchup with the greatest basketball player of this generation.