The fourth-best in the West Minnesota Timberwolves came into Brooklyn Wednesday night looking for a win. With the T’Wolves holding the lead with 30 seconds left in the game, a late-game floater by Spencer Dinwiddie spoiled their run, giving Brooklyn its third straight win at home after defeating Minnesota, 98-97.
The matchup was a thriller down the stretch for Brooklyn, a game in which the Nets led for the majority. Brooklyn’s largest lead came about early in the third quarter when the Nets went on an extended 10-0 run and went up 12. Once Brooklyn took that edge, though, the Timberwolves went on an extended 26-9 run in the third quarter to increase their lead to as large as five.
What plagued Brooklyn all night were turnovers. That trend was evident from the start, as the Nets turned the ball over 11 times in the first half and 19 overall. Minnesota took better care of the ball, giving it away eight times all game.
Some of Brooklyn’s turnovers came on questionable calls, such as a kickball that turned into a Minnesota fastbreak bucket and a charge where it looked like Karl-Anthony Towns was not set. Still, the Nets had their chances to make up for those errors.
Where the Nets held their edge was in three-point land. Led by Dinwiddie’s 4-of-7 and Joe Harris’ 4-of-5 performances from three, Brooklyn shot the ball 46.7 percent from distance (14-of-30). Minnesota did not get the three-ball up as often, shooting just 1-of-11 from three.
Even with Caris LeVert out of the game with a left groin strain, the Nets maintained their dominant contribution from the bench. For the 11th straight game, Brooklyn recorded an advantage in bench points, this time with a 38-18 edge over the Timberwolves.
Through the fourth quarter, Brooklyn and Minnesota battled back-and-forth. Dinwiddie was the lead man at point who led the Nets in their successful possessions, finishing with 26 points and nine assists on the night.
Still, Minnesota bolstered its shooting percentage and did not miss often in the fourth quarter. Jimmy Butler extended his team-high 30 points, getting to the free throw line 18 times and draining 16 of them. In comparison, the Nets went to the charity stripe just 11 times as a team, making 10 of the attempts.
In the fourth, Harris came alive. He cut for the basket, set up his teammates, followed up shots and drained threes. He was on fire and doing it ALL. His three-pointer gave the Nets the 87-85 lead with six minutes to go in the game. A DeMarre Carroll three then capped off an 8-0 Nets run.
Dinwiddie and the Nets fought through the final two minutes with a two-point edge. The Timberwolves tied the game at 94 on a Tyus Jones layup with 1:22 left.
In the following plays, both the Nets and Timberwolves turned the ball over, with Minnesota tossing it out and the Nets stepping out of bounds. The Nets went on from there with an inadvertent trip of Jones, giving Minnesota a free throw and the ball with Brooklyn holding a one-point lead.
Another foul gave Butler two free throws and Minnesota the lead with 30 seconds to go. It seemed as if the game was being thrown away by the Nets.
Then came Dinwiddie. With the shot clock winding down, he drove in and got a floater to fall with 10 seconds left in the game and gave Brooklyn a one-point lead. Butler threw up a shot, but it was short.
Game, set, match, Nets.
The Nets hit their free throws and trusted their point guard down the stretch to clinch the victory. The game easily could have gone Minnesota’s way, but Brooklyn held on to beat one of the West’s best.
In addition, Jahlil Okafor made his home debut for the Nets, entering first to start the second quarter and put up two points and two rebounds in 11 minutes. It was a good showing to start for Okafor, and at least now he is in the rotation (as long as he continues to earn it).
The Nets are undefeated (2-0) in 2018, both with and without LeVert, and improved to 15-23 on the season with the win. The Nets are also 10-0 when holding an opponent under 100 points this season.
This homestand is treating the Nets well, and now Boston is on the horizon.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Small Forward
10 PTS, 4-8 FG, 2-2 FT, 5 REB, 1 AST, 3 TOV, 1 BLK, 27 MIN
The birthday boy balled out, even in his shortened time due to foul trouble (the three offensive fouls in one quarter did not make him happy). He was most dominant early, putting up all his 10 points in the first half.
Still, as the game went on he applied defensive pressure to Towns, holding him quiet down the stretch. Hollis-Jefferson may have had to play with five fouls at the end of the game, but he still held his ground on defense and it paid off.
Joe Harris Shooting Guard
17 PTS, 6-7 FG, 4-5 3FG, 1-2 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 2 TOV, 28 MIN
Joe Harris’ shooting was off the charts, missing just one of his five threes attempted. He really came alive at the end of the game, backing up his teammates and draining a big three to help the Nets regain the lead.
Harris has been so, so good for the Nets, and his clutch time play is what makes him even more important to the team.
DeMarre Carroll Small Forward
9 PTS, 3-11 FG, 1-4 3FG, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 1 AST, 3 TOV, 1 BLK, 31 MIN
Carroll battled with a sore rib all game, often holding his hand over the area and grimacing. Still, he stayed in the game and also added a three-pointer in Brooklyn’s fourth-quarter run.
With two days off, hopefully Carroll can heal in time for Brooklyn’s next matchup, but he battled through the discomfort tonight.
Tyler Zeller Center
6 PTS, 3-4 FG, 5 REB, 1 AST, 13 MIN
Not a standout stat line for Zeller, but he played well in his limited time on the court. Okafor coming into the rotation limited Zeller’s minutes a bit, but he gave his team meaningful minutes and was active in the paint.
Spencer Dinwiddie Point Guard
26 PTS, 9-14 FG, 4-7 3FG, 4-4 FT, 9 AST, 3 TOV, 1 STL, 36 MIN
Game-winner Dinwiddie! His drive and floater at the end of the game, along with his near double-double, led Brooklyn to victory. Instead of settling, he created his shot, and it worked.
If this was 2 weeks ago, Spencer Dinwiddie would've taken a long 3 to get the Nets back in the game. Tonight, he attacked the switch over and over. That's progress. And that's winning basketball.
— Charles M. 🤙 (@ignisyon) January 4, 2018
Dinwiddie has learned from his past mistakes in shooting the ball in clutch time. The difference now? Brooklyn walked away with the win.
That just shot him up another step in being All-Star caliber.