If the Nets are anything, they’re consistent – they followed up a 26-point second quarter deficit on Friday against the Bucks with another one against the Timberwolves Saturday. Brooklyn scored just 11 points in the first quarter compared to Minnesota’s 30.
It was bad.
To the Nets’ credit, they were undermanned. Both Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert were out with groin injuries and D’Angelo Russell got some rest as part of his injury management. To fill the voids, the Nets called up Isaiah Whitehead and James Webb III from the Long Island Nets.
The bright spot of the game for Brooklyn was the second quarter and the early moments of the third. The Nets ended the second quarter on a 31-14 run to cut the deficit to 12 at halftime, led by Allen Crabbe and Nik Stauskas’ eight points apiece. Crabbe, unfortunately for the Nets, went cold in the second half, which has been a common theme as of late.
Once the third quarter hit, a DeMarre Carroll three-pointer and Spencer Dinwiddie drive to the basket brought the Nets within five points of the Timberwolves. When it looked like the Nets could keep rolling to tie the game, Minnesota got some shots to fall and took advantage of Brooklyn’s turnovers.
The Nets’ 16 giveaways gave Minnesota 24 points off turnovers, and the Timberwolves thrived off them. The Wolves also dominated in second-chance points, thanks to a ridiculous career-high 10 offensive boards from Karl-Anthony Towns.
Brooklyn made another slight run in the fourth quarter with Whitehead draining threes and Jahlil Okafor putting up a dominant 21 points and six boards, coming within single digits of the lead. Still, Andrew Wiggins made the shots Minnesota needed to pull away for the 111-97 win.
The Nets thrived the most with Dinwiddie as facilitator, who put up 10 assists to just two turnovers. He did not put up his best offensive numbers, though, finishing with six points.
One of the most thrilling parts of the game came when Kenny Atkinson received his first career ejection after questioning a hard no-call on Joe Harris. Once Atkinson got his first technical, he went absolutely irate at the referee, which led to his second tech. Fans have to love the passion and fight Atkinson has for his team.
The Nets head home (kind of) with the next game coming at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks on Tuesday, Jan. 30. The slow starts are becoming killer for the Nets, no matter how many runs they make. Something has to change in that regard.
8 PTS, 3-6 FG, 2-2 3FG, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 TOV, 10 MIN
After dropping 26 points in a Long Island Nets uniform on Friday, Whitehead got the call-up Saturday morning to play with Brooklyn in Minnesota. In the playing time he got, he worked well with Okafor, Nik Stauskas, Webb and Harris to rally the Nets in the fourth. He drained both his threes with confidence and gave the Nets a boost.
It would be nice to see him stick around longer after not playing with Brooklyn in over a month, but it is unclear how long RHJ, LeVert and Russell will be out. Still, it was good to see the sophomore get some time outside the G League again, even though he’s been thriving there.
21 PTS, 9-14 FG, 0-1 3FG, 3-3 FT, 6 REB, 1 BLK, 24 MIN
Hello Okafor. As Sarah Kustok mentioned postgame on YES, one silver lining that can be taken from this back-to-back is the development of some players, and Okafor is one of them. He played with confidence against the Timberwolves and kept the points coming. Getting more minutes with RHJ out, Okafor got a chance to show he’s growing into his own.
15 PTS, 5-10 FG, 3-6 3FG, 2-2 FT, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 TOV, 1 STL, 1 BLK, 33 MIN
Another player who got the chance to show his growth was Stauskas who also stepped up against the Timberwolves. He was solid from three and worked well with his teammates. It was good to see him get into double-digits again too.
3 PTS, 1-6 3FG, 7 REB, 2 AST, 4 TOV, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 24 MIN
He had some rebounds and steals, but another rough game from Acy. I don’t know what it is, but he needs something to bounce back, and fast.