Kevin Garnett, Nikola Pekovic, Shaun Livingston

Nikola Pekovic and the Minnesota Timberwolves downed the Nets 111-81. (AP)

Kevin Garnett was his usual eloquent self speaking with reporters after Friday night's loss, the first of his career to his former team.

"We created this monster, and we have to deal with it," Garnett said after the team's embarrassing 111-81 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that gave him a video tribute and a standing ovation honoring his twelve years of service in Minneapolis from 1995 to 2007.

"What you gonna do, you gonna quit? Quitting is not an option. … None of us got this far by quitting."

But there were moments last night where that didn't seem to be the case.
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Andrew Nicholson, Andrei Kirilenko, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez

Out, out, and... out. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets are 3-8 after a wholly unenthusiastic loss against the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday. The franchise point guard went down with another ankle injury, and Brooklyn is near the Eastern Conference cellar. Tonight, they take on the 7-6 Minnesota Timberwolves.

Yet, somehow, the Nets only find themselves 1.5 games out of the division lead, which guarantees at least the 4th seed in the playoffs. Quickly, Brooklyn has approached the point of the season in which fans vehemently called for former coach Avery Johnson's head last year.

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Deron Williams, Jason Terry

AP

The Nets are catching too many breaks, and not the good kind. Starting Brooklyn Nets point guard Deron Williams and center Brook Lopez have officially been ruled out once again as they each nurse sprained ankles, while backup small forward Andrei Kirilenko (back spasms) and backup shooting guard Jason Terry (bruised knee) will both sit out Friday night's contest against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

It has been a cruel stretch of bad luck for Williams; after having numerous problems with both ankles throughout his two-year tenure with the Nets, he appeared to turn a corner in February after receiving cortisone shots and platelet-rich plasma therapy to soothe his ankle synovitis, playing like an elite-level point guard in the last three months of the season. But while working out as his Utah home in the offseason, Williams suffered a right ankle sprain, causing him to sit out training camp and all of one preseason game.

Then, in a cruel twist, Williams landed awkwardly on his left ankle against the Phoenix Suns last Friday when jumping up for a rebound, resulting in another sprain. Then, after Williams waited a few days, participated in a full practice plus bonus shooting drills, and told reporters he'd be ready to go with no restrictions, Williams landed awkwardly on Kemba Walker's foot in Wednesday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats, re-spraining the left ankle.

Lopez injured his ankle landing awkwardly in the fourth quarter of the Suns game and has not played since. He has no clear timetable for return. Kirilenko, who last played for the Timberwolves before signing a two-year contract with the Nets this past offseason, hurt his back in preseason and shuffled in and out of playing ever since, calling these spasms the worst of his career. It's not entirely clear when Terry bruised his knee, but the injury was listed on Wednesday's Nets injury report.

Shaun Livingston will start in Williams's place for the third time this season. The Nets have started both Andray Blatche and Reggie Evans in Lopez's place, and Mason Plumlee is also available at center.

 

Ricky Rubio, Deron Williams

The Brooklyn Nets look to improve to 4-8 against Ricky Rubio and the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. (AP)

In the midst of the bad times, the 3-8 Brooklyn Nets travel to Minnesota tonight to take on the 7-6 Minnesota Timberwolves, looking to snap a three-game losing streak and win just their second game on the road this season. The Timberwolves are on a two-game losing streak of their own, after dropping contests to the Los Angeles Clippers and Washington Wizards -- two teams the Nets lost to earlier this year.

The Nets, who've jumped out of the gate like they have bricks tied to their sneakers, have an uphill battle to climb if they want to beat the Timberwolves: despite Minnesota's pedestrian 7-6 record, they've recorded the 11th-best offense and fifth-best defense in the league. But the Timberwolves either seem to blow you out or lose: they're 0-5 in games decided by four points or less, and they beat opponents by an average of 15.9 points per game when they win.

To sum up: the Nets, who entered the season with a record payroll and championship aspirations, come in a significant underdog against the Timberwolves, who spent below the luxury tax threshold on their players and haven't had a winning record in nine seasons. Things done changed.

The Nets and Timberwolves have a fair amount of ties. Nets forward Andrei Kirilenko opted out of the last year of his deal with Minnesota (worth approximately $10 million), only to sign a two-year deal with the Nets for $6.2 million, with only one year guaranteed.

The Timberwolves are also the former home of Nets power forward Kevin Garnett, who was drafted by Minnesota out of high school. He played a dozen seasons with the franchise, winning an MVP Award, and holds the franchise records for games played, minutes played, points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks. Garnett has also never lost to the Timberwolves, with a perfect 7-0 record against them since leaving the team.

The Timberwolves of today look much different than Garnett's Timberwolves. They're led by Kevin Love, arguably the best big man in the NBA, Kevin Martin, one of the NBA's best and most awkward shooters, and Ricky Rubio, one of the NBA's most creative passers and shot creators. For a taste of what Rubio can do, Just watch this, over and over again.

rubiofisher

Rubio is averaging 7.9 points and 8.8 assists per game, though he's shooting a dreadful 33.7% from the field. Even Garnett's shooting better than that.

Love's game relies less on flash, but he's been a monster this year, averaging 25.4 points, 13.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 36 minutes per game. No one is even close to approaching those numbers. He currently leads the league in points and win shares, ranks fourth with a 27.1 PER, and he's shooting 34.9% from three-point range. So he's pretty good.

Martin shoots like he's trying to open a jar of pickles, but you can't question its effectiveness. Through 13 games, the shooting guard's averaged 23.6 points per game, has hit eight of 12 three-pointers in transition, and is shooting 47% on threes overall.

The Nets don't expect Kirilenko (back spasms) to see the floor, and the status of Brook Lopez (ankle sprain) and Deron Williams (ankle sprain) is unclear. Lopez has sat out since injuring the ankle a week ago against the Phoenix Suns, while Williams injured his ankle in that same game, returned to play Wednesday against the Charlotte Bobcats, and landed awkwardly on the ankle again.

 

BY WILL RAUSCH

WARM-UPS

The Game Starts Now...... MORE →

 

 

Grade the Game at any time!

Tonight: The 25-16 Brooklyn Nets take on the 17-21 Minnesota Timberwolves at 8:00 P.M. EST, at Target Center in Minnesota. The Nets are 11-2 since pseudointerim coach P.J. Carlesimo replaced Avery Johnson. The Timberwolves have lost six of their last seven games, with those six losses coming at an average of 12.5 points per game.

Watch & Listen: The game is broadcast on YES Network. Ian Eagle & Mike Fratello are on the call. The game is radio simulcast on WFAN, and in Spanish on WADO.

Out: The Timberwolves' injury report resembles the New Jersey Nets of the past two years: they're down six players, three of them full-time starters. Most notably they're without starting frontcourt Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, but are also down Brandon Roy, Malcolm Lee, Alexey Shved, and Chase Budinger. That's 86 combined starts between the six players.

The Nets? Clean bill.

More on tonight's matchup after the jump... MORE →

 

Nikola Pekovic

The Nets should be thankful they won't see Nikola Pekovic tonight. (AP)

The Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves square off tonight at 8:00 P.M. EST. Here's three things to watch:... MORE →

 

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.

Open Thread: Nets-T’Wolves

Posted on: November 5th, 2012 by Devin Kharpertian Comments

 

Deron Williams, Brooklyn Nets

Deron Williams & the Brooklyn Nets take on Minnesota tonight. (AP/Kathy Willens)

The Brooklyn Nets play the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight. Here's what you need to know:

TV: The game is being simulcast on the YES Network and NBATV. Ian Eagle and Greg Anthony are tonight's commentators. Anthony is making his YES debut.

Starters: So much for the standard five. It only took one game. The Nets will start Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Keith Bogans, Kris Humphries, and Brook Lopez, Bogans replacing the injured Gerald Wallace. The Timberwolves are expected to start Luke Ridnour, Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams, and Nikola Pekovic.

Key reserves: The fearsome foursome: C.J. Watson, MarShon Brooks, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche, anchored by starting shooting guard Joe Johnson playing small forward. The Timberwolves played their every member of their ten-man rotation at least 15 minutes, and will likely continue to lean on their bench with their depleted lineup.

Russian Roulette: Mikhail Prokhorov is in the building tonight, as is Alexey Shved. Prokhorov ran into Kirilenko before the game and said hello. That was that.

Injury Report: The Brooklyn Nets are without both small forwards tonight: starter Gerald Wallace is nursing a left ankle, and Josh Childress is still out with his injured ankle. Keith Bogans will be limited, though he will start. The Timberwolves are without their two best players, starting power forward Kevin Love and starting point guard Ricky Rubio.

Season standings: The Brooklyn Nets are 1-0 after defeating the Toronto Raptors 107-100, and thus on pace to be 82-0. The Minnesota Timberwolves are 1-1, having lost their most recent game to those same Toronto Raptors 105-86.

The Brooklyn Nets will win if... they understand that they're far superior to this depleted Timberwolves team, play to their strengths, avoid Nikola Pekovic or get him in foul trouble, and let Deron Williams and Joe Johnson go to town on Luke Ridnour and Brandon Roy.

The Brooklyn Nets will lose if... 2009 Brandon Roy shows up. If Nikola Pekovic makes an Andray Blatche sandwich between slices of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries. If Luke Ridnour suddenly is no longer Luke Ridnour. If Derrick Williams can score the way a #2 overall pick should. And if, without Gerald Wallace, Andrei Kirilenko does absolutely everything in the way that only guys like Kirilenko and Wallace can.

In NBA 2K13:Nets win, 119-100. Even without Gerald Wallace, the Nets won all four quarters and took down a depleted Timberwolves roster. The Nets were led by Deron Williams, who finished with 28 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. Joe Johnson chipped in a 24-5-5 on 10-14 shooting, Brook Lopez finished with 14 points and 8 boards, and C.J. Watson & Andray Blatche both added 12 off the bench. Chase Budinger led the Wolves with 20 points. The Nets destroyed the Wolves 54-33 on the boards and shot 53% from the field en route to the romp.
2K13 Nets record: 2-0
2K13 prediction record: 1-0

Enjoy the game!

 

Andrei Kirilenko Minnesota Timberwolves

Former Nets target Andrei Kirilenko & the Minnesota Timberwolves take on Brooklyn. (AP/Jim Mone)

Time for the first second game of the season in Brooklyn Nets history! The Nets are set to take on the Minnesota Timberwolves tonight at Barclays Center without their starting small forward, Gerald Wallace. The Timberwolves come in with a host of injuries -- Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, and now J.J. Barea will all sit out this evening.

Minnesota, like Brooklyn, has undergone an offseason facelift. Joining me to talk about tonight's game is Zach Harper, Timberwolves blogger for A Wolf Among Wolves and CBS Sports' Eye On Basketball blog. He also lives in your computer, so make sure to turn it off at night so he can sleep.

Like with James Herbert, Zach and I will go one-on-one: I ask him three questions about the Timberwolves, and he asks me three on the Nets.

Zach Harper on the Timberwolves:

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